It’s a measure of the high stakes involved that Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Mittal, Idea’s Kumar Mangalam Birla and Vodafone’s Vittorio Colao have jointly written to the Prime Minister objecting to any move to stop them from offering 3G services in each other’s circles.
Various organs of India’s telecommunications department are said to be of the view that this is illegal, allowing those who didn’t win spectrum fair and square in last year’s auction to offer 3G services in areas where they don’t have any.
The companies reject this contention, saying that they are only sharing networks, which is allowed. While the quality of 3G services thus far on offer has been patchy to say the least, the telecom companies say they have right on their side.
What may tilt the case in their favour is that the government said this specific kind of 3G roaming would be allowed during a clarification session before the auction.