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September 28, 1999
MTNL threatens to sue TRAIThe Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited is on a head-on collision path with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
MTNL Chairman and Managing Director S Rajgopalan has himself said "We are thinking of suing TRAI over them dragging their feet on our cellular phone proposal."
On Friday, he told reporters in New Delhi that he was upset over the lack of a clear answer from TRAI even while MTNL has a licence valid since 1997.
Moreover, the service costs proposed by MTNL are well within the tariffs set by TRAI, he claimed.
Asked if MTNL has written to the TRAI about moving the court, Rajgopalan said, "There is no need to forewarn TRAI."
MTNL's threat to sue TRAI assumes significance because the delay over its cellular services could adversely affect the government's programme for divestment of its equity in MTNL. Equity of 19 million shares, targeting about Rs 3.5-4 billion is to be divested.
Besides, the state owned MTNL had mopped up Rs 9 billion through a global depository receipt issue in 1997, promising expansion into cellular operations.
Rajgopalan dismissed that there would be any cross-subsidisation while offering the cheap cellular services. "Market forces have to determine tariffs," he added.
The private operators would not be affected with MTNL's wireless-in-local-loop mobile phone services because it would be catering to the lower end of the market, Rajgopalan asserted.
In Bombay and New Delhi, MTNL has proposed a refundable deposit of Rs 10,000 for the handset and Rs 1.40 for a three-minute call.
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