The Supreme Court has restricted Airtel from adding new 3G subscribers in seven circles where it does not have license to operate the services. A final ruling will on the matter is yet to be made.
Airtel can continue providing 3G services to existing customer, the court has said.
In places like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Kolkata, Airtel offers 3G services through agreements with rival Vodafone. With this order, Airtel can’t add any more 3G subscribers in these regions.
The telecom service provider, had appealed at the Supreme Court against a government ban on operating 3G services in unlicensed circles. The court order will affect other service providers such as Vodafone and Idea who have entered into 3G roaming pacts.
Airtel had entered into pacts with other service providers to roll out 3G services in 7 circles where it did not have spectrum license to operate 3G. However, the telecom department asked Airtel to stop providing 3G services in these seven circles.
The telco went to court against this order and had gotten a stay order. Last week the Delhi high court vacated the stay and Airtel would have been forced to reduce its 3G offering to 13 circles out of 22 circles in the country.
Idea Cellular and Vodafone have also entered into similar roaming agreements to provide 3G services. The department of telecom has imposed a fine of Rs 850 cr on Airtel, Rs 550 cr on Vodafone and Rs 300 cr on Idea.