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Airtel threatens legal action against Indian govt over 3G ban

Bharti Airtel is considering legal action against the government after the ban against 3G roaming pacts was enforced again.
Written by Mahesh Sharma, Correspondent

Airtel has threatened to initiate legal action against the Indian government after the Delhi High Court lifted a stay order to ban the telco from reselling 3G services.

The Hindu Business Line reported Thursday the High Court lifted a stay order on the government ban, which outlawed telcos from offering 3G services in telecom circles where they do not have the license to operate in. 

In response, a Bharti Airtel spokesperson told ZDNet that customers would suffer from this decision to ban intra-roaming across the country.

"We believe the 3G arrangements are in compliance with all applicable laws and licensing conditions. These arrangements are also hugely beneficial to customers and discontinuing these will cause grave inconvenience to them," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added Bharti Airtel has yet to receive the order from the Delhi High Court and, once received, will consider appropriate legal action against the government.

The Hindu Business Line report did note the telco does not have to pay the US$65 million fine immediately.

None of India's telcos own a license which allows them to offer 3G services across the whole country. For example, in the state of Karnataka, Vodafone has the license only for 2G services but provides 3G coverage to subscribers via the Bharti Airtel network.

Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, together with Bharti Airtel, had in December 2011 wrote to the government demanding it to return the amount they paid for the 3G spectrum licenses if the ban for intra-roaming stands.

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