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Vodafone, Idea Asked To End 3G Pact

Telecommunications ministry has called for Vodafone Group's local unit and Idea Cellular to terminate 3G services outside their licensed zones and obligatory penalty on both carriers, a senior government authoritative said, in a dispute that has dragged on for more than a year. The orders follow a similar pronouncement to top mobile phone carrier Bharti Airtel last month, which the company is struggling in courts. Vodafone and Idea are also hoped for to challenge the government orders. The Department of Telecommunications has inquired Vodafone India to pay a penalty of Rs 5.5 billion ($100 million) and Idea Cellular to pay about Rs 3 billion, the official said. Vodafone India and Idea refused to comment. The conflict over 3G pacts is one of different regulatory challenges hurting carriers in the world's second-largest mobile phone market. In a 2010 bid, no single carrier carried off to win 3G airwaves for all of 22 telecommunication zones as bid prices were far high than anticipate. Bharti, Vodafone and Idea supply 3G services beyond their licensed zones through with pacts with each other. The authorities says such pacts are "illegal".

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