Vodafone moves TDSAT on termination fees

Written by Anandita Singh Mankotia | New Delhi | Updated: May 12 2011, 08:03am hrs
Stepping up its opposition to the telecom regulators review of termination charges, Vodafone Essar has moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal ( TDSAT) alleging the regulators move beyond the regulatory purview. It has charged that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indias move to even hold consultation process on abolition of termination charge is against the TDSATs judgement on the issue.

The matter will come up for hearing on Thursday May 12.

The move comes just two days after the countrys second largest GSM operator wrote a strongly worded letter to Trai on the matter. Sources said that even Bharti Airtel has written a similar letter of protest to the regulator

The Trai floated a consultation paper on the review of Interconnect Usage Charge (IUC) on April 29.

The paper has asked the industry to give its views on whether the mobile termination charge or the charge an operator from whose network the call originates has to pay to the operator on whose network the call ends, be abolished. This in telecom parlance means moving from the current cost-based approach to bill and keep. The regulator had last reviewed this charge in March 2009 and reduced it to 20 paise per minute from the earlier 30 paise.

In its letter to the regulator Vodafone had said that the TDSAT judgement mandates that the termination charge can be reviewed only under the cost-based approach.

The issue has drawn criticism from the incumbent operators for obvious reasons since it is they who have a larger subscriber base and hence the new operators land up as net payers to the incumbent operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular. Newer operators like Uninor have welcomed the move though.

In fact, most of the new operators, who were given licences in 2008 have been demanding end of termination charge as most of calls originating from the networks get terminated on networks of old operators who have more than 90% of the subscribers.