Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday said decisions related to issues such as 3G roaming would be made only after discussions with the industry and in accordance with the law.
“Everything in life must be done with discussion and debate. What doesn’t happen in Parliament should happen. Even issues with respective industry must all be discussed and debated,” Mr. Sibal told reporters outside Parliament House.
He was reacting to questions on the telecom operators’ opposition to the Government over several issues including 3G roaming and repeated imposition of Rs. 50 crore penalty by DoT under various norms.
“I will meet with the industry players soon to discuss the 3G roaming issue. Industry players have sought time and I am hopeful to resolve the issue,” he added.
The issue pertains to the pact among major service providers, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular, for providing a 3G roaming network on a pan-India basis.
Other service providers, like Tata Teleservices and Aircel, had entered into a similar agreement to offer services in six circles.
Recently, the Department of Telecom (DoT) had said in an internal note that the roaming agreement among telecom companies for 3G services would lead to a significant loss of revenue for the government.
There may also be an impact on revenues from spectrum usage charges collected from operators, according to the internal note prepared by the DoT.
Earlier, the chiefs of three leading telecom firms -- Bharti, Idea and Vodafone -- had sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention in the dispute over 3G roaming pact in a jointly signed letter, failing which they threatened to surrender spectrum.
Asked by when the Government would be able to solve the 3G roaming issue, Mr. Sibal said, “I don’t know. The point is we will discuss and we will debate and we will try to do the right thing, both for the industry and for the government.”
On license cancellation, Mr. Sibal said the issue, as has been recommended, will be done in consistence with the law.
He, however, refused to give a time on the issue.
“When, I don’t know. We will do what we have to do, consistent with the law,” he said.