| Locked in the loop
New Delhi, Oct. 14: The department of telecommunications has asked Reliance Infocomm to keep calls on its limited mobile phones within the short distance charging area (SDCA), or face penal action.
Licence conditions require such calls to be restricted to the SDCA — an area equivalent to a Taluk — and for the service to be offered without roaming facility.
In a letter dispatched to the company today, DoT has asked for a reply within 48 hours with details of efforts taken by it to stop calls forwarded from one SDCA to another.
The move is a follow-up of Sunday’s decision by the group of ministers on telecom to implement an order of the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). The tribunal asked DoT and Trai to ensure that calls from limited mobile phones are within SDCA.
“We have asked the company to explain whether it is offering calls beyond SDCA. They have also been told to ensure that calls made from limited mobile phones are not active in another SDCA when the subscriber moves from one area to another,” a senior DoT official said. “They have also been told that penal action would be taken if it is established that there is violation of our directive,” sources said.
This could spell trouble for the firm’s five lakh customers, but a Reliance spokesperson said licence conditions are being followed and that there has been no violation.
“We did not get the letter seeking a clarification on our limited mobile services till 6 pm today. There is no problem in providing any clarification since all licence guidelines are being followed,” the Reliance spokesperson added.
Sources in DoT said no penal amount has been specified in the letter. Nor is there a warning that the licence issued to Reliance Infocomm could be spiked. The outcome will be determined by the financial and legal wing of DoT, based on Reliance’s reply and a study made by technical officers.
If penalties are imposed, it could lead to litigation as a Telecom Engineering Commission report gave the firm a clean chit on the ground that calls from Reliance’s limited mobile phones end within the SDCA.