India’s Department of Telecoms has awarded Idea Cellular a Unified Licence for 7 of the country’s 22 telecom circles – Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Kolkata, North East, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
The news follows the announcement that Reliance Jio Infocomm has also been awarded a Unified Licence to use its pan-Indian spectrum.
Idea has now managed to regain licences in all of the circles where its original licences were cancelled following India’s 2G licensing scandal. Idea’s licence in Bihar was not among the 122 that the Supreme Court ordered to be cancelled.
The operator had refused to sign the original Unified Licence agreement, as it banned operators from creating their own intra-circle 3G roaming pacts. This would have allowed operators to offer 3G at standard rates in circles where they have no spectrum, which the DoT ruled was illegal.
Three major operators - Airtel, Idea and Vodafone - rallied against the unpopular decision and the matter is now sub-judice. The DoT and Idea have now agreed to adhere to the court order for now while taking into account potential new regulation over 3G roaming pacts related to new licences.