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Cellular firms seek Mahajan support

New Delhi, Sept. 11 (PTI): Anticipating aggressive price competition with the launch of cellular services by Bharat Sanchar Nigam, private operators have asked the government to ensure that public sector operators do not indulge in “predatory” pricing on the strength of their customer base and cash flows.

“The private industry collectively appeals to you to ensure level playing field amongst the private and the public sector operators,” Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said in a letter to Union communication and IT minister Pramod Mahajan.

The COAI emphasised that the private sector was fully prepared to compete with the public sector provided they were offered equitable terms, T. V. Ramachandran, director general of COAI, said in the letter.

Ramachandran said, “Some statements made by the ministry, as reported in the media, have greatly dismayed and distressed the private players in the telecom sector as well as domestic and foreign investors.”

Last week, Mahajan had lambasted the private operators for levelling frequent charges against PSUs saying that allegations of predatory pricing against BSNL were baseless.

“If a rate-cut by the private sector is customer oriented, why is an aggressive tariff by BSNL, predatory'” Mahajan had questioned.

Earlier, COAI had written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) describing BSNL’s offer of alternate tariff package for its wireless in local loop (WLL) based limited mobile services as “predatory”.

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