India’s Department of Telecommunications has ordered Bharti Airtel Ltd on Friday to stop offering third-generation telecom services in seven service areas where it doesn’t hold the bandwidth.
The company has also been asked to pay a fine of 3.50 billion rupees for violating telecom-license rules, the department said in a statement.
After this order by the Telecom department of India, Bharti Airtel will have to stop its 3G services by Monday in Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh (East), Kolkata, Gujarat and Kerala service areas and the company will also have to pay the fine within 15 days.
A Bharti executive said the company has challenged the order in the Delhi High Court. The court will consider the application Monday, the executive said.
Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have signed agreements between them in July 2011 to allow their customers to use 3G services in areas where at least one of these companies has the bandwidth.
In December 2011, the Telecom department had asked the companies to stop the services, since the terms of their 3G licenses don’t allow such pacts.
Bharti, Idea, and Vodafone India then went to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, which initially stayed the ban.
A two-member bench of the tribunal last July gave a split verdict on whether or not operators could continue providing services in areas where they don’t hold 3G bandwidth.
The department insisted that the operators will have to stop services.