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Indian telecom court adjourns limited mobility case

A telecoms tribunal adjourned its hearing on a controversial govt policy that allows basic phone firms to offer cheaper limited radius services.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2003 18:34 IST
Reuters
Reuters
PTI

A telecoms tribunal adjourned its hearing on a controversial government policy that allows basic phone firms to offer cheaper limited radius services following an appeal by private cellular companies.

The policy is at the core of a long-running dispute between basic operators and loss-making private cellular firms who say the limited mobility facility gives fixed-line firms an edge in the booming telecoms sector.

The case was referred by the Supreme Court to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal in response to a petition by cellular firms seeking to scrap the policy introduced in January 2001.

"The court has adjourned the hearing to March 17," Manjul Bajpai, a lawyer representing the association of cellular operators, told reporters.

He said cellular companies had applied for an adjournment after Communications Minister Arun Shourie set up a panel comprising warring telecom players earlier this month and urged them to resolve their differences amicably.

"The committee meetings are going on and we want to maintain an environment of good faith," Bajpai said.

The main players in India's nine-year-old cellular sector are Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd -- 16 percent owned by Singapore Telecommunications -- state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Idea Cellular Ltd.

India has more than 11.2 cellular phone users which are expected to grow to 120 million by 2008, making the country a highly sought after destination for global telecoms majors.

Six companies including the unlisted BSNL, Reliance and the Tata groups offer the limited radius facility.

First Published: Feb 24, 2003 13:07 IST