The GSM operators’ body, Cellulars Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to Trai clarifying that 3G intra-circle roaming pacts between operators are well within the legal rights of the telecom operators who have won 3G spectrum.
Case by case, the industry body has contested all the points, which it believes the regulator has cited to the department of telecommunications (DoT) to deem the 3G intra-circle roaming among operators as illegal.
In a letter to the Trai chairman, J S Sarma, the COAI general secretary RS Mathews has claimed that it was made amply clear in the Notice Inviting Applications to the bidding operators that since there were only three slots per circle available, the ones who do not win spectrum in remaining circles would be allowed to use the 3G network of other operators in those circles specifically. “Intra-circle roaming would be permitted”, was clarified by the DoT , Mathews has said.
Mathews has disputed that intra-circle roaming amounts to a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement. “Under the MVNO- MNO agreement the customer acquisition is undertaken by the MVNO and the customer remains on the MNO network only for access services. However, under the 3G intra circle roaming the pact is between MNO and another MNO wherein the customer remains on the home network for voice as well as the VAS services.
Meanwhile, DoT has been probing whether roaming pacts would create hurdles in lawful interception as communication flows seamlessly between the 2G and the 3G network of operators. This, the industry body has said, is a futile worry as “the modus operandi of monitoring any conversation remains the same whether on 3G or 2G”.