The Delhi High Court has granted Bharti Airtel’s request for a stay order halting a direction from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for the operator to cease offering 3G services outside of its licensed areas, the Business Standard reports. As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Bharti, along with Reliance Communications (RCOM), Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, is involved in a dispute with regulators over rights to offer 3G services in areas that they do not hold spectrum rights via roaming agreements. The practice was given the regulatory green light prior to the 3G spectrum auction, only for the nation’s telecoms watchdogs to later reverse their decision, calling the practice illegal.
Following a split decision from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), the DoT issued notices to all cellcos offering 3G roaming, instructing them to cease providing the service. Bharti challenged the watchdog, describing the regulator’s action as ‘arbitrary,’ with ‘no rational basis…and contrary to the contract between the parties.’ The Delhi court’s ruling supports Bharti and prevents the regulator from taking any coercive action against the cellco before the next hearing of the case. However, Bharti has also been instructed to respond within 60 days to show cause notices issued by the DoT on the matter.