| The big three: (From left) Idea Cellular CEO Graham Burke, Hutch MD Asim Ghosh and Bharti chief Sunil Mittal
New Delhi, Jan. 16: Bharti, Idea Cellular, Sterling Cellular and Fascel were given 72 hours to explain why they have failed to link basic operators offering limited mobility.
“You have repeatedly failed to comply with the order to provide interconnection and you have not been able to furnish any valid justification for the violation. That adversely affects the interests of other service providers and has caused serious inconvenience and losses to subscribers,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said in its show-cause
“Bharti Cellular, besides others, are hereby called upon to show cause within 72 hours as to why penal action should not be initiated against you under Section 29 and 30 read with Section 34 of the Trai Act and under the terms and conditions of licence agreement.” This is being seen as a threat to recommend termination of licences of these mobile operators.
Calling the matter as extremely urgent, the regulator has asked operators to send their authorised officials/representatives to “appear personally” before its office on January 20 at 11 am with a written explanation.
“In the event of failure to comply, or if the explanation furnished is not found to be satisfactory, the authority shall proceed to initiate necessary action under the provisions of law,” the regulator said in its letter.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) responded to the ultimatum by saying that it is disappointed at a move that will hit close to one crore customers.
Cellular operators are willing to offer interconnection provided there is reciprocity in interconnection charges between them and limited mobility firms.
Cell operators refused to reply to Trai’s directive to restore interconnection within the three-day deadline given to them. They had also refused to send their explanation even after a grace period of a day lapsed on Wednesday.
“The industry also believes that Trai has no jurisdiction in the matter and that it was through a direction violating the letter and spirit of Supreme Court order remitting the WiLL matter back to the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal.