Airtel dials Jio, BSNL, MTNL for roaming pacts, non-stop coverage

Kolkata: Bharti Airtel has urged Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio Infocomm and state-owned telcos, BSNL and MTNL to collectively combine forces and pave the way for intra-circle roaming (ICR) pacts to ensure uninterrupted mobile and wireless internet services amid an upsurge in data consumption as bulk of India Inc staff works from home to contain Covid-19.

“It is of paramount importance that at this crucial juncture, we come together as an industry to serve the nation and prepare ourselves for any kind of exigency,” Bharti Airtel said in a joint letter to Jio, Vodafone Idea, BSNL and MTNL on Monday.

Bharti Airtel, in its letter, said the company “would like to put in place a protocol amongst the telecom service providers (TSPs) for implementation of various measures, including intra-circle roaming,” in line with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP-17) for telecommunication services for responding to disasters, as issued by Department of Telecommunications (DoT). It has assigned chief techcnology officer Randeep Sekhon as the pointsperson to drive coordination efforts from Airtel’s end.

The No 2 telco’s move comes on the quick heels of Bharti Airtel chairmam Sunil Mittal calling on the country’s Big 3 telcos to lay down their arms and come together to share networks to ensure all customers of the country are connected.

Airtel said such an exercise would be particularly relevant, where a site is shut or where the TSP is not able to manage the up-time, wherein, the operators can collectively ensure that mobile and internet are not interrupted.

Under the proposed ICR arrangement, mobile users will enjoy wider coverage of 2G, 3G and 4G services and better wireless internet speeds while roaming within a circle/metro.

Airtel said at a time when the government has implemented social distancing measures through various interventions such as closure of commercial establishments, social centres, educational institutes and also advised work from home for offices/organisations, it is incumbent on the telecom industry to ensure continuous and uninterrupted availability of mobile and internet services, which are the backbone of the digital infrastructure.

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