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Cell industry goes to tribunal

New Delhi, Jan. 17: Cellular operators — Bharti, Fascel, Sterling and Idea — today filed a petition with the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal against a Trai show-cause notice which threatens penal action.

The petition, to which the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is a party, seeks TDSAT’s intervention to restrain BSNL and MTNL from denying interconnection to cellular companies.

On Thursday, Trai had sent a show-cause notice to the cellular operators with a 72-hour time limit asking them to reply as to why they had failed to restore interconnection to the limited mobile service providers in the circles they operate.

The operators are to appear personally before the authority on Monday at 11:00 am along with a written explanation.

A senior executive of a company that has filed the petition pointed out that they were forced to seek TDSAT’s intervention because of Trai’s show-cause notice.

“Trai in its letter states ‘if the explanation so furnished by you is not found to be satisfactory, the authority shall proceed to initiate necessary action under the provision of law as mentioned above without any further reference to you.’ So even if we appear on Monday there is always a possibility that the regulator may not agree with our reply. So we have decided to move TDSAT,” said a senior executive in COAI.

“We will appear before Trai at the stipulated time. There is no change in our decision till date,” said senior executives in Bharti Cellular.

In its petition, the cellular industry has also pleaded that since it already offers interconnection to over five crore (99 per cent) telecom users in India, it wants to reiterate that these firms are willing to offer immediate interconnection to all WiLL operators, but based on a fair and reciprocal interconnect arrangement.

A COAI release said that WiLL operators are unwilling to accept the offer and have recently begun to force indirect interconnection through a ‘backdoor’ by re-routing calls via the BSNL network. This is in flagrant violation of accepted norms in the telecom industry, the release said.

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