Communications Minister Kapil Sibal will meet all stakeholders to diffuse the growing controversy over the issue of three leading incumbent operators, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, offering 3G services without having spectrum in the circles, thus violating licence conditions.
Sibal’s ultimate is of one nation, one licence. He, however, dismissed the request made by the three operators, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh through a letter that in case they are not allowed roaming services, the government should refund their spectrum auction payment with interest along with compensation for all the capital investments made by them to build the network.
The three players, which had entered into roaming agreements, are offering 3G services where they don't even hold 3G spectrum. While Vodafone has spectrum in only nine circles, it offers 3G services to its customers in 20 circles. Bharti Airtel has 3G spectrum in 13 circles but offers 3G services in 20 circles. Idea Cellular has 3G spectrum in 11 circles but offers 3G services in 19 circles. The country already has about 10-15 million 3G customers.
Apart from the internal wings of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the law ministry have given a strong opinion that the three companies cannot offer such services and they are against the terms of the licence. Sibal also admitted opinions have also not supported the incumbent operators.