Leading telecom providers resume national roaming in India, after appelate body quashes govt ban

'Govt can't play games in a matter of national importance like allocation of spectrum', says  telecom appellate body
Bangalore, May 7, 2014: Three leading  Indian telecom operators -- Idea Cellular,  Airtel and Vodafone -- have resumed the arrangements  that allow them to offer customers seamless  3G services across all their operating circles.
This follows the April 30 judgment of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) which  quashed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)'s stiff  penalty notices to the telecom providers for  offering the 3G roaming services in circles where they did  not have the requisite 3G licenses by arrangements with the local provider who had.
Airtel  has announced the resumption of its 3G services in eight circles:  Haryana, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, MPCG (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh), Gujarat, Kolkata and UP (east).
Idea  says its customers  in Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kolkata & West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Assam and North East can now avail 3G services, and roam seamlessly across the country.
Vodafone's 3G services will be available in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and J&K, UP West, Kerala, Bihar/Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Assam & North-East.
With palpable bad grace, the Indian government which has been pursuing its curious logic about roaming 3G services  in the face of common sense as well as natural justice, has vowed to go in  appeal. It remains to be seen whether the government which  takes over in May after the General Elections, will bother.
The judgment, is a classic of its kind which goes beyond  restating the legal position to articulate broad principles of public good  which    are expected to underpin government policy. We provide a link to the full judgment and  encourage  readers to study it  as much for the sound common sense as for an elegant treatment of the entire subject of  cellular technology and roaming.

The judgement says:
"The Government of India cannot be seen playing games in a matter of national importance such as allocation of spectrums that affects not only the operators but is crucial to the promotion and growth of communication in the country..... the prohibition of intra-circle 3G roaming would have the direct result of under-utilization of 3G spectrums which is plainly not in national interest. Conversely, allowing intra-circle 3G roaming would result in a much fuller and better utilization of the 3G spectrums... The arrangement is thus beneficial to the consumer – the ordinary man, the operators and the State."

Elsewhere the judgment reads: "..The fundamental premise on which all the elaborations are made is that the Unified Access Service  licence held by the petitioners is a ‘2G licence’; that a ‘2G licence’ is different from a ‘3G licence’; that the holder of a ‘2G licence’ cannot provide ‘3G services’; that in order to deliver ‘3G services’, it is imperative to have a ‘3G licence’ which is different from a ‘2G licence’. This basic premise is extended to spectrums, ‘services’ and even ‘subscribers’ and it is contended that ‘2G spectrums’ are different from ‘3G spectrums’, ‘2G services’ are different from ‘3G services’ and even ‘2G subscribers’ are different from ‘3G subscribers’. In our considered view, the first and the basic premise is seriously flawed and its extension to spectrums, services and subscribers is even more fallacious."

Find the full text of the judgment here