Regulator thwarts Indian telcos' 3G plans

India's Telecom Commission authorizes 2G spectrum sharing but not 3G, forcing operators to stop sharing these resources, report states.

India's telecom operators will have to wait longer before they can legally share 3G spectrum capabilities as the country's Telecom Commission greenlighted only the sharing of 2G spectrum rights, according to the Times of India.

In a report on Tuesday, the Telecom Commission was cited as stating that mobile phone companies can share their 2G airwaves, but only if both consenting operators have spectrum rights in that specific region, among other conditions. The 2G spectrum is largely used for standard voice services, it noted.

This means telcos such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel and Idea Cellular, will have to terminate their 3G roaming deals they had offered to consumers, the report stated. These companies had earlier signed up 3G customers across the country riding on bilateral roaming agreements to use other operators' airwaves in regions where they might not have 3G spectrum rights, it added.

The Times of India noted the operators have claimed they are not aware of the latest ruling by the Telecom Commission as the government had yet to announce it.

Last December, the government had announced that these 3G roaming deals were illegal and had to be terminated immediately. The telcos responded by writing to the prime minister demanding the refund of their 3G spectrum auction payment should the decision be upheld, an earlier report stated.