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Thursday, Jan 06, 2005

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BSNL says Tata Tele avoiding payment on `Walky' services

Thomas K. Thomas

New Delhi , Jan. 5

AFTER blowing the whistle on Reliance Infocomm's illegal routing of long distance calls, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has now lodged a complaint with the telecom regulator against Tata Teleservices for avoiding payment of Access Deficit Charges by allegedly offering mobile services under the garb of fixed line telephony.

Private cellular operators have also sought the intervention of the regulator in this matter.

In a letter written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), BSNL has said that Tata Teleservices was enjoying the benefits of a fixed line service operator even as it was offering services called `Walky' which was essentially a limited mobile service.

Fixed line operators are not only exempt from paying ADC but also receive ADC for calls terminating on its network. On the other hand operators offering mobile services are required to pay deficit charges ranging between 30 paise and 80 paise per minute. BSNL has alleged that though Walky was a mobile service, Tata Tele was claiming ADC as if it was an extension of fixed line telephony.

In another letter, the Cellular Operator's Association of India (COAI) has written: "The situation is becoming a severe non-playing field issue vis--vis the cellular mobile service providers since the mobile Walky appear to be enjoying landline benefits. Additionally, BSNL is also being severely disadvantaged since they would not receive ADC from the Walky calls."

Mr D.P.S. Seth, Member, TRAI, said that the issue is being examined and a decision would be taken very soon. Tata Tele has been projecting Walky as mobile services at landline rates in its advertisement.

The Tata Teleservices spokesperson, however, said that the company had not received any communication in this regard and was complying with all guidelines as stipulated by the authorities.

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