The telecom tribunal has directed Tata Teleservices to pay 5 paise as termination fee for each SMS terminating on Vodafone India’s network. This is half of the 10 paise per SMS demanded by Vodafone.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) also directed Vodafone not to block SMSes from Tata Teleservices (TTSL) subscribers. In case, there is a termination, the tribunal has asked Vodafone to restore it immediately.

This is an interim order, with TDSAT asking the companies to settle the issue among themselves. Termination charges are paid by an operator terminating voice calls or text messages on another operator’s network.

A Vodafone India spokesperson declined to comment.

Vodafone has sought a termination fee of 10 paise per SMS from April 2011. On November 7, Vodafone had issued notice to TTSL asking the latter to pay Rs 188 crore as SMS termination fee by November 17, failing which it would disconnect its SMSes services terminating on its network.

Following this, TTSL had moved TDSAT requesting the tribunal to set aside the notice issued by Vodafone.

The order came after TTSL moved telecom tribunal against Vodafone’s notice threatening to disconnect SMS services on its network over a dispute over termination fees.

A host of similar issues have come up before the TDSAT.

On Friday, TDSAT directed Aircel to pay SMS termination fee of 5 paise per message to Vodafone India. 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.

rajesh.kurup@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 27, 2012)
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