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Friday, Aug 27, 2004

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DoT fines 3 ISPs for grey Net telephony

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Aug. 26

IN a bid to curb the grey market in long distance calls, the Department of Telecom has cracked down on Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which are routing illegal traffic through their network. The department has imposed a fine on defaulting ISPs - - the Tatas-managed Dishnet DSL, Spectranet and Primus Telecommunication.

Dishnet DSL Ltd, Spectranet and Primus Telecommunication have been asked to cough up Rs 2.28 crore, Rs 2.34 crore and Rs 9 lakh, respectively. Other defaulting ISPs would face similar action by the department.

Reacting to the DoT move, the Tatas controlled Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, which had recently acquired Dishnet, said was not liable to pay any fine.

"VSNL has taken over Dishnet's business, business assets and only the business liabilities. Any violation of licence agreement prior to VSNL acquiring Dishnet's Internet business lies with Dishnet Ltd, and not with VSNL. We did not acquire the licence of Dishnet, but only the subscribers who are now being serviced under VSNL's ISP licence," a VSNL official said.

As per the licence conditions, ISPs are not permitted to offer telephony services on fixed lined phones. However, raids conducted by DoT along with the Central Bureau of Investigation revealed that Internet leased lines of ISPs were being misused for switching the international calls to fixed line telephones bypassing the networks of long distance operators. In some cases, pre-paid cards were also used to originate calls from fixed line numbers, which were illegally switched to international numbers through Internet.

DoT has also issued detailed instructions to all ISPs to carry out regular inspection to check such misuse of their Internet leased lines. The raids were carried out at several locations.

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