The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trai readies show-cause for cell firms

New Delhi, Jan 15: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will send a show-cause notice to three cellular mobile operators — AirTel, Hutch and Idea — tomorrow, demanding to know why they have failed to restore interconnection to limited mobile service providers as ordered by the regulator earlier this week.

The cellular operators have to file their replies in 72 hours, failing which the regulator will invoke its powers under the Trai Act to penalise the operators.

“The grace period given to them in addition to the normal time period to comply with our directive has expired. We will wait till 10.00 am tomorrow (Thursday) and will issue a show-cause notice,” said a senior official in Trai.

Trai’s move is an indication that the regulator is hardening its stand. Under the provisions of the Act, it can slap the recalcitrant cellular operators with a fine of Rs 2 lakh for disobeying its orders and also recommend the cancellation of licences.

The first sign that the regulator was taking a tough stand on the issue when it sent a strongly-worded letter to the cellular operator in which it rejected the charge that it was favouring the limited mobility players.

Trai’s letter was issued in response to the advertisements in newspapers made by cellular operators alleging that the regulator was not impartial in its approach while dealing with the issue of interconnection.

Interconnection is prerequisite for any two or more operators to send or receive a call made by their subscribers amongst themselves.

“As the regulator, Trai cannot allow this to happen and it will, therefore, certainly require that all calls transiting validly through the existing interconnection links be duly completed without being blocked at any stage in any manner,” states the letter sent to the operators. “Any operator resorting to such undesirable practices will be dealt with suitably in terms of the existing license conditions, laws and regulation,” it added.

Bharti spokesperson said late tonight they had received the letter late and had time to reply to it till midnight. Spokespersons for the other two operators — Hutch and Idea — refused to comment on the issue.

The three operators refused to reply Trai’s directive to restore the interconnection within the three-day period given to them. They had also refused to send their explanation even after a grace period of one day expired on Wednesday. All three operators were huddled in a meeting till late night and are expected to reply as soon as they receive the show-cause notice.

“We have been told by our lawyers that a show-cause notice is the next step since we had refused to give an explanation for our action. So we are fully prepared to reply to the notice,” a senior AirTel executive said.

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