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High Court Lifts Stay Order on Airtel 3G Roaming Ban

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A multiple member panel of High Court Judges lifted a stay order earlier granted by the Delhi High Court staying the Department of Telecom’s ban on Intra-Circle Roaming for high speed 3G data Services.

Last month, the DoT had sent a notice to Airtel to immediately stop Intra-Circle Roaming for 3G and pay a fine of Rs. 350 crore, or Rs. 50 crores for each of the seven circles where Airtel was operating 3G services with roaming partners without having a license.

Airtel 3G

Airtel had obtained a stay order from the Delhi High Court against this notice, and was allowed to continue offering 3G services until the case was heard on 8th May. It also directed the DoT not to take any action.

This stay was contested by Reliance Communications, which led to the revocation of the stay order.

Airtel is the largest mobile operator in India, and has the largest 3G subscriber base as well. Airtel released a statement saying “We believe 3G ICR arrangements are in compliance with all applicable laws and license conditions.” They also said that they await a copy of the court order, following which they will decide on appropriate legal action.

If this order goes against Airtel, it is likely to affect a large portion of their 3G subscriber base in the seven circles of Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (East), who will have to switch providers to continue using 3G data services.

It is interesting to note that the DoT has planned similar action against Vodafone and Idea Cellular as well, who operate Intra-Circle 3G Roaming in a similar fashion.

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