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Govt refuses to toe telecom tribunal line

New Delhi, Aug. 20: The communications ministry is unlikely to change its stand on the issue of call forwarding and multiple number registration — the facilities that have been given to the basic operators as part of their licence conditions.

A high-level meeting held on Wednesday was attended by communications minister Arun Shourie, telecom secretary Vinod Vaish and Bharat Sanchar Nigam chief Prithipal Singh. The meeting discussed the implication of the order of the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to “maintain the difference between the services — limited mobile and cellular mobile”.

Tata chief Ratan Tata, who also met the communications minister today, is believed to have urged him not to impose any further restrictions on limited mobile service.

Sources, who are part of the team that will decide on the action to be taken to limit WiLL calls within short distance charging area, said, “It is unlikely that the government will change the licence conditions or alter it to accommodate the TDSAT directives. There are technologies and methods to maintain the difference between the two services.”

“Our legal team is examining the various issues. The government’s position has been made known before the TDSAT during the deposition on V5.2 technology. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has not directed us to implement the order but has asked us to examine the issue of restricting limited mobility,” sources added.

The communications ministry is also exploring the possibility of resorting to legal means if the government counsel feels that the TDSAT order on limited mobility do not permit basic telephone service providers to function within the ambit of their licence conditions.

Although the government had recently said that it would not move the Supreme court against the TDSAT order, a senior communications ministry official said, “We have not ruled out such a possibility.”

The issue of limiting the calls from limited mobile phones within the short distance charging area using a V5.2 technology is being argued before the TDSAT. The arguments that remained inconclusive on Tuesday will continue next week.

Cellular operators are insisting that basic operators should install this product to limit their calls within short distance charging area (SDCA).

However, this has been contested by the basic operators. They claim it is a ploy by the cellular operators to kill the limited mobile service.

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