The DoT in 2008 allowed intra-circle roaming allowing operators [See Below] to enter into mutual commercial interconnect deals. Further in Queries & Responses prior to the 3G & BWA Auction, DoT clearly states in response to Question 12 as below,
12. Will intra circle roaming be allowed in areas where an operator does not have a 3G network?
Response: Intra-circle roaming will be governed by the UAS/ CMTS licence provisions and applicable Government regulations.
Further in Question No 48,
DoT order No. 842-725/2005-VAS/269 dated 12th June 2008 allows intra-circle roaming amongst UASL licensees. After 3G auctions not all existing UASL licensees will hold 3G spectrum in any licensed areas due to the limited 3G blocks on offer. Will customers of UASL licenses who do not hold 3G spectrum be allowed to roam on the 3G networks of other UASLs in the same licensed area? Response: The roaming policy is applicable to the licences and not to specific spectrum bands. Hence, roaming will be permitted. However, at present, mandatory roaming or MVNO is not part of the Government’s telecoms policy.
In Question 230 again,
Will intra-circle roaming be allowed for 3G & BWA?
Response The provision for intra-circle roaming is as applicable to the service licence, and is
not different for/ specific to the spectrum being currently auctioned.
From the above it is amply clear that DoT had given specific clarification that its policy allowing roaming was applicable to service licenses and was irrespective of spectrum band. 3G services have no separate license and 2G is different from 3G only because of the spectrum band. 2G services are offered in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands while 3G spectrum was auctioned in the 2.1GHz band. Operators assert that roaming is different from spectrum sharing or trading, as spectrum remains with the roaming provider.
Airtel further argue that selling 3G SIMs in markets where they do not have 3G spectrum of their own is not a violation, as there is no generation of new radio access network and new numbering, and the spectrum stays with the operator who owns the 3G spectrum.
Indian Policy Makers except the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India [Dr.Singh] seem to have vested interest and are potentially highly corrupt twisting laws and regulations to favor a select few. I’m not aware of what changes DoT may have made in the Licenses so as to favor Reliance and Ambanis. With such pathetic Policy Makers / Politicians, Supreme Court of India is the only hope for justice.
Hopefully, 3G Intra-Circle Roaming arrangement stays and we continue to add more Indians on 3G Highway 🙂