The operators’ spat over termination of text messages seems to be heading for a conclusion, with one of the disputes resolved, at least for now.

The telecom tribunal – Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) – on Friday directed Aircel to pay SMS termination fee of 5 paise per message to Vodafone India till the dispute is finally resolved.

Vodafone had demanded 10 paise per SMS as termination fee. On Thursday, the companies had moved TDSAT after Vodafone blocked text messages on its network across the Chennai, Tamil Nadu, New Delhi and Karnataka circles.

“The issue has been resolved and we are delighted that our customers can now send and receive SMSes,” an Aircel spokesperson said. Vodafone spokesman declined comment.

Aircel, which has a total of 66.79 million users in country, provides services to about 26.72 million users in these circles.

TDSAT has also directed Vodafone to immediately restore interconnection of SMS generated on Aircel's network. The matter will come for hearing again on January 10, 2013.

Termination charges are paid by an operator terminating voice calls or text messages on another operator’s network.

In October, Vodafone had demanded Rs 40 crore as SMS termination fee plus applicable tax for the period between April 2011 and September 2012, which was opposed by Aircel.

SIMILAR ISSUES

Vodafone is the second operator to block Aircel’s SMS on its network with Bharti Airtel blocking SMS from Aircel since November 9, four days before Diwali.

Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest telecom operator by subscribers, had also blocked text messages from Reliance Communications (RCom) on its network. The New Delhi-based firm had alleged the two operators of spamming its network with “free SMSes”.

The network was re-opened to RCom subscribers following an interim TDSAT order, with the case coming up for hearing again on November 27. However, connectivity between Bharti Airtel and Aircel are yet to be resolved.

Similarly, the SMS between Tata Teleservices Ltd and Vodafone over a similar dispute is yet to be resolved. Vodafone had issued a notice stating it would block the Tata group company’s text messages on the latter’s platform. The issue is also pending before TDSAT.

rajesh.kurup@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 23, 2012)
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