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Operators quibble over ‘limits’ of limited mobility

New Delhi, Aug. 9: Subscribers to limited mobility services have been caught in a cleft with the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) tying down the WiLL (M) players to a small spatial area called the short distance charging area (SDCA).

On the day after the TDSAT issued its order allowing limited mobility services, the basic operators and cellular players were poring over the fine print of the order to determine just how ‘limited’ the limited mobility service would be.

The hair-splitting has already begun over the definition of the short distance charging area (SDCA). The cellular operators are crowing over the fact that each metro circle is broken up into three or four SDCAs and the limited mobility subscriber won’t be able to use his handset if he moves cross town.

Rubbish, says basic operators trying to put on a brave face.

The basic fixed line operators agree that it will be within the SDCA but claim that the whole of Delhi, for instance, is one SDCA.

The cellular operators claim that there are four SDCAs in Delhi and three each in Mumbai and Chennai and one in Calcutta.

A short distance charging area is a taluk or a revenue area as per the definition used by the government administration.

The Association of Basic Telecom Operators (ABTO) today said that their subscribers would continue to get the same service and there would be no change, since they never crossed the SDCA limits.

However, the cellular operators claim that it would be illegal if they offer this service beyond the short distance charging area as defined in the mobile licence.

The licence signed by basic telecom operators, the ABTO claims defines Delhi Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta as one SDCA.

“ABTO states that this is totally a wrong interpretation of the judgment and is being spread with ulterior motives to mislead the general public. It is hereby clarified that Delhi is one SDCA and WILL(M) service is permitted in the whole of SDCA and there has been no impact of any kind of this judgment on the provision of service in Delhi or in other SDCAs in the country including metro areas of Mumbai, Chennai, etc,” said an ABTO release .

”Whatever has been the service area defined originally, they remain the same. The service is permitted in the entire SDCA and the SDCAs have been clearly defined in the licence granted to the basic service operators. There is no change in the constitution of SDCAs as a result of the judgment,” the release added.

T. V. Ramachandran, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said the association would hold its executive council meeting next week to discuss the issue and how to stop the basic operators from violating the TDSAT order.

“The judgment is now law of the land and any violation would have its consequences. On our part, we will decide on the future course of action on the judgment next week. If a law is violated anyone can go to court or Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and seek clarification on this violation,” said Ramachandran.

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