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BSNL takes on pvt telecom firms over carrier charges

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has decided to take on private operators to cough up carrier charge dues of over Rs 1,800 crore.

Sanjay Singh   New Delhi     Last Updated: September 12, 2011  | 15:22 IST

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has decided to take on private operators to cough up carrier charge dues of over Rs 1,800 crore, even as it denies charges by private operators that the state-run telecom operator is trying to hike the charge (interconnect or termination).

Reacting to the statement by telecom lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), BSNL's chairman and managing director (CMD) R.K. Updhayay told MAIL TODAY on Sunday that the telco has never demanded or issued any written or verbal statement for hiking the termination charges.

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"It is all being done by private operators to pressurise the BSNL management not to initiate recovery of carriage charges from them. We have never called for raising carriage charges as claimed by private telcos. This is being done to create an adverse situation against BSNL. But we cannot let them go free without paying the dues. Had we ever initiated raising carriage charges, the operators would have moved the TDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal) by now," said Updhayay.

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Updhayay will meet private operators later this week in a bid to sort out the issue.

Carrier charges are fees paid by mobile phone companies to fixed line operators (like BSNL and MTNL) for calls terminating on the fixed line operator's network.

BSNL's Rajasthan and Maharashtra circles have issued notices to private operators to pay their dues or face disconnection.

A senior official at the department of telecommunications (DoT) said that private operators owe it over Rs 2,500 crore as carriage charges.

"Only Aircel and SSTL (Sistema Shyam Teleservices) have been paying their dues. SSTL has been consistently paying since June 2010. RCom (Reliance Communications) too, has very small dues, but other big operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, TTSL and others have not been very irregular in paying their carriage dues since April 2009," Updhayay pointed out.

In a statement on Saturday COAI had said BSNL's decision to initiate action against private telecom operators for failing to pay carrier charges was wrong as there are no dues pending with private players.

"Adding to the anomaly, BSNL is now seeking a higher termination charge of 40-85 paise per minute from private mobile operators for termination of mobile calls to their fixed line network," COAI had said.

The director general of COAI Rajan Mathews was not available for comments.

As per the Trai's Interconnect Usage Charges Regulation 2009, a private operator is expected to pay 35 paise per minute to terminate a call on BSNL's fixed line network, while BSNL is required to pay 20 paise for per call generating from BSNL's fixed line network to private mobile operators.

But as BSNL and MTNL have a market share of just around 20 per cent, private players are not worried about disconnection at their end. Instead they feel that if BSNL disconnects the calls, the latter's own subscribers would suffer and probably surrender their fixed lines.

Courtesy: Mail Today

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