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TDSAT clears WLL; moots sops for cell players
August 08, 2003 11:24 IST
Last Updated: August 08, 2003 15:20 IST
In a blow to cellular operators, the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal on Friday allowed WLL limited mobile services, but recommended various concessions for the cellular industry to provide a level playing field.
By a majority judgement of two members -- R U S Prasad and P R Dasgupta -- the Tribunal allowed WLL services by basic service providers dismissing cellular operators' petition, but the chairperson Justice D P Wadhwa in his dissenting order set aside the guidelines by which the government granted limited mobility in WLL.
Under the TDSAT Act, the majority verdict prevails.
On the issue of level playing field, the majority judgement said that "since it is a value addition to WLL services which has a definite impact on playing field conditions, we feel that there is enough justification for imposing additional entry fee over and above what they are paying as required under basic license."
They also favoured levying of additional charges for allocation of additional spectrum for WLL services.
The TDSAT, by a majority judgement of 2:1, dismissed the petition filed by cellular operators challenging government's decision to allow wireless in local loop (mobile) services as part of the basic telecom services licence.
The decision of cellular operators to move TDSAT seemed to have been provoked by advertisements by Reliance Infocomm to offer roaming services across 673 cities in India.
The cellular operators had also sought penal action against those WLL operators who were violating their licence terms.
Chairman of TDSAT, Justice D P Wadhwa, was against providing WLL moblie services, while the other two members of the TDSAT bench, R U S Prasad and P D S Dasgupta, agreed to the decision to allow basic service providers to offer WLL mobile services.
The two members, however, pointed out that the starting of the WLL services had created disturbances for cellular operators and thus there was a need to compensate them to offer them a level-playing field.
As per the TDSAT Act, the majority decision prevails.
"We have seen no illegality or arbitrariness in either the procedures followed or, the final decision taken by the government to permit basic service operators to provide limited mobility services as a value added service within the ambit of their licence.
"We also hold that allowing WLL limited mobility in basic service stream does not go against the spirit of the New Telecom Policy, 1999.
"We hold that WLL service with limited mobility will go a long way in increasing the teledensity of the country and making available cheaper and affordable service and benefits accruing from evolving technology which are in conformity with the objectives of NTP, 1999.
"Therefore, allowing WLL service with limited mobility would be in the best interest of the telecom sector and consumers at large in the country."
As long as WLL mobility service is provided as a value added service under fixed service provider licence, the existing distinction between fully mobile cellular mobile service and limited mobile service providers would have to be maintained.
"We are conscious of the fact that allowing WLL service with limited mobility will cause disturbance in the level-playing field, hence we have suggested a number of steps, which should be considered and taken for ensuring level-playing field.
The judgement said, "as a result of what we have discussed earlier, the petitions fail.
"The government would, however, immediately initiate action."
The majority ruling noted that since WLL mobility was a value addition to the WLL service, which has a definite impact on level-playing field conditions, "there was enough justification for imposing additional entry fee over and above what they are paying as required under the basic service licence agreement."
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