The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Limited mobile players get Trai wake-up call

New Delhi, Feb. 11: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has asked the two major limited mobile operators — Reliance Infocomm and Tata Teleservices — to explain whether their plans to offer short message service (text message service) and roaming in 673 cities violates the licence conditions. S. P. Singh, senior research officer (legal) at Trai, said, “The move was initiated by the regulator on its own and was not based on the complaint filed by the cellular operators.”

“Trai had sent letters to Tata Teleservices (TTL) last week and to Reliance Infocomm on Monday. We have already received the reply from TTL and are awaiting the response from Reliance. Any penal action or directive from the regulator in this regard will be issued based on our analysis of their replies,” Singh added.

A senior executive in TTL said, “We have said there has been no violation of the licence norms prescribed in the basic service licence that allows us to offer limited mobile service.”

When asked whether they had categorically spelt out that they would not offer SMS, the executive said, “We do not need to. The question was whether we have violated any licence norms and we have not.”

On Tuesday, the Cellular Operators Association of India had moved Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal against Reliance’s move to offer value-added services on their limited mobile phones like free SMS and roaming access across 673 cities.

Industry sources said that there are enough loopholes in the basic service licence conditions that could be interpreted to offer text messages by the limited mobile operator.

“Even roaming can be offered where a limited mobile subscriber registered in Delhi can travel to Calcutta and carry the phone. A call made from Delhi to his limited mobile number issued in Delhi can be taken by the operator and patched to him in Calcutta through a different number issued to him in Calcutta,” said an executive of a company offering limited mobile services.

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