OneIndia plan may be delayed
A case filed by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) against Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday threatens to delay the launch of its OneIndia telephone tariff, offering a call for Re 1 per minute across the country, scheduled to come into effect from March 1.Updated: Feb 15, 2006 01:57 IST
A case filed by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) against Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday threatens to delay the launch of its OneIndia telephone tariff, offering a call for Re 1 per minute across the country, scheduled to come into effect from March 1.
BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) were bullish about the new tariff regime since Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran has been pushing for it for sometime now. But the litigation by BSNL indicating inconsistency in IUC/carriage charge direction issued in 2003 by TRAI could impact the new IUC regime to be announced soon by the telecom watchdog. BSNL wants to expunge only clause 4 (iii) and (iv) and para 84 of the explanatory memorandum of IUC. Regulations of October 29, 2003.
Further, a reference in the same petition to an earlier order of Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) limiting the power of TRAI to fix the inter-connection system could further prolong the litigation.
Interconnect user charge (IUC), according to TRAI, is a charge payable by one service provider to one or more others for usage of the network elements for origination, transit or termination of the calls.
The issue in contention is, currently a mobile call to a fixed phone which is handed over to BSNL at the long distance charging centre (LDCC), is taken to short distance charging centre (SDCC) and finally to the subscriber premises. The distance from LDCC to SDCC may be 50 km or more.
BSNL wants to charge a distance-based rate (from LDCC to SDCC) while TRAI has said that it should charge only 20 paise per minute. If BSNL is allowed to have its say, it could increase the tariff cost of cellular operators and their ability to price the services competitively.
TRAI counsel Meet Malhotra, appearing in the case on Monday heard by a two-member bench of Vinod Vaish and Lt. Gen. D.P Sehgal, argued that IUC regime pointed by BSNL had been in force for more than two years. He also contended that BSNL had not explained the reasons for the inordinate delay in citing the problem in IUC.
He said that the issue could not be looked into by TDSAT following the judgement of Delhi High Court on December 23. It had observed that in relation to regulation, TDSAT would have a limited jurisdiction in respect of such decisions of TRAI which were not in nature of delegated legislation.
TRAI has been given two weeks’ time to submit its reply. The case is scheduled to come up for hearing on March 8, 2008.
Meanwhile, Association of Universal Licence Service Providers (AUSPI) refused to accept a directive of BSNL that asked private operators to share infrastructure cost as part of interconnection agreement.
In an ongoing litigation which came up for hearing on Tuesday, AUSPI said all changes to interconnection should be based on a mutually agreeable terms and condition and should not be a unilateral decision.
First Published: Feb 15, 2006 01:57 IST