India would ask mobile telecommunication carriers to put an immediate end to providing third-generation (3G) data services outside their licensed zones through roaming pacts with each other, secretary, department of telecommunications, said adding that this added to regulatory uncertainty in the sector.
India's telecommunications market, which is the world's second-biggest by number of users, has been hit by regulatory uncertainties since the unfolding of the telecom spectrum allocation scam and the subsequent cancellation of all telecom licences issued in 2008 by the Supreme Court..
The affected carriers would have to buy airwaves in an auction to be conducted in November.
The latest move comes after the statement by the government in December that it was illegal to offer 3G data services beyond their allotted zones. The government order was challenged by the carriers and the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), gave a split verdict in July.
The government sold 3G airwaves in a 2010 auction that attracted much higher bids than initially expected with no single company managing to get spectrum across the country's 22 zones.
Leading mobile operators Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular Ltd are currently offering 3G services beyond their licensed zones through internal pacts.