Split verdict in Indian telecoms tribunal regarding 3G access

A split verdict was delivered today at an Indian telecoms tribunal in which operators challenged a government order to stop the carriers offering 3G services beyond licensed zones.

Indian operators had been offering 3G services through mutual roaming pacts, and the tribunal asked operators to appeal in court. The tribunal split its vote – one in favour of the government and the other in favour of the carriers.

Bharti airtel, Vodafone’s Indian subsidiary and Idea Cellular, the top three carriers in the region by revenue, have been able to offer 3G across the country as a result of the roaming pacts.

The country’s telecoms ministry ruled last December that it was illegal to offer 3G beyond their zones.

Bharti was the biggest winner in the country’s 2010 government auction, after it won 3G bandwidth in 22 services areas in the country. Idea won 11 and Vodafone was allotted nine.