Giving a twist to the ongoing controversy over inter-connectivity between GSM operators and the Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Communications, the GSM operators' body has stated that RCom needs to sign new agreements with the operators.
The Cellular Operators' Association of India has stated that the present agreement between RCom and GSM players dates back to 2003, and this does not include the new GSM operations that the company is planning to enter.
Lack of a commercial agreement between RCom and the GSM operators is the major reason for the lack of inter-connectivity agreements. Moreover, RCom is completely unwilling to re-negotiate the terms of interconnection and this was hindering the interconnect issues, COAI said in a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. However, there arises a need to 'mutually establish the technical and commercial terms of interconnection for RCom's new GSM network, and consequently establish the physical interconnectivity for the same,' it said. 'Based on this, Mobile Switching Code (MSC) could be tested and opened,' it added.
RCom had accused GSM operators of not permitting interconnect on over their network and had petitioned Trai. The regulator, on its part, issued an order on August 4 directing GSM operators to provide access to 'MSC 90', the code allocated to RCom. The GSM players were also asked to report compliance within seven days.
In its letter, COAI has maintained that if a new network is coming up, then the 'existing Point of Interconnet (PoI)' cannot work with it. In its place a new PoI has to be set up, and that is possible only after mutual discussions.
'Our member operators are ready and willing to open their GSM network for RCom but require RCom to come through an appropriate PoI, as per mutually negotiated terms and conditions,' COAI said in a letter to Trai secretary.
COAI also stated that it was in discussions with the new entrants and has sought interconnect agreements from the existing operators.
It would be against all principles of level playing field if the commercial terms of interconnection for RCom's new GSM network are different from those available to the new licensees and the UAS (CDMA) licensee when all are similarly placed and are all setting up new GSM networks.
The interconnect agreements between operators lay down mutually-agreed terms between parties and there is a clear provision for review to be invoked in an event like an amendment to the licence and/or regulatory change.
'We are at a loss to understand as to how these bilaterally-agreed provisions can be overlooked. Trai's directive is not only completely contradictory to its earlier stand but also flies directly in the face of the mutually-agreed terms and condition of the interconnect agreement and completely destroys the sanctity of an agreement or arrangement between two consenting parties," said COAI.
The GSM operators had been opposing the entry of RCom in GSM mobile services sector. The operators had also petitioned TDSAT and moved the high court against the policy of the government to grant Dual Technology Spectrum to the company.