The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cellular operators cross with regulator

New Delhi, July 18: A new battle has begun in the telecom industry — this time pitting the telecom regulator against the cellular service providers over the issue of a unified licence.

The cellular operators are incensed by the consultation paper on the issue that was floated early this week by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

A few operators like Idea Cellular are planning to file a petition before Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) next week to challenge the premise on which the paper has been prepared. However, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the forum that represents all the operators, is likely to stay away from the process of litigation against the consultation paper.

While speaking at a seminar on wireless technologies here today, Trai chairman Pradeep Baijal reminded the cellular operators that most of the countries were moving towards a unified licence regime under which telecom operators are permitted to provide a whole raft of telecom services.

Although this did not necessarily mean that we should also follow them, he said we would get a fair ‘idea’ about what should be done once the responses to the consultation paper were received.

The regulator plans to send its recommendations on this issue by next month-end.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Baijal said, “Litigation in any democracy is natural if a person feels that wrong has been done. There are litigations in every change and then the court gives a view.”

According to Trai, the process of unified licence has been only initiated and it is not a decision. “We would like stakeholders to give their view and we would submit it to the government with our suggestions,” said Trai member D. P. S. Seth.

The unified licensing regime, as envisaged in the consultation paper released by Trai, would enable the ‘service providers’ to offer both fixed and mobile services.

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