The Department of Telecom (DoT) may ask Bharti Airtel to stop 3G services in 7 circles in India, according to a recent report by Economic Times. DoT had already sent a notice to Airtel to stop their 3G services in these 7 circles including, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh (East), Kolkata, Gujarat, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. DoT also asked Airtel to pay Rs. 350 crore (Rs. 50 crore per circle) for violating licence norms.
The winners of the 3G auctions were announced back in May 2010. Bharti Airtel acquired license in 13 circles, Idea in 11 circles and Vodafone in 9 circles.Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular partnered to offer pan-India 3G services back in 2011. Vodafone and Idea Cellular were also sent a similar notice to stop 3G services where they did not acquire license for 3G spectrum, back in December 2012. Telecom minister Kapil Sibal has already approved the DoT’s report for a 350-crore penalty on Airtel. He had already told these operators several months ago to stop 3G services in circles where they did not acquire license.
Prior to the 3G auctions in 2010 DoT said to the operators that roaming will be permitted. According to the DoT’s communication that would be sent to Airtel, it states that “3G is a standalone service and not an extension of or in continuation of 2G spectrum, is clear from the Notice Inviting Applications conditions”
If Airtel stops their 3G services in these circles, thousands of customers in these circles would be affected.
[Update: Delhi High Court has stalled the DoT’s ban and said Airtel can continue offering 3G services in these 7 circles until the final order]