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Cellular firms offer interim solution
Surajeet Das Gupta & Thomas K Thomas in New Delhi |
February 20, 2003 13:32 IST
Cellular service providers have proposed a compromise formula to avoid breakdown in peace talks with basic operators.
They have offered to accept wireless in local loop limited mobility services till the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal takes a decision on the issue.
Cellular service firms had earlier shot down a proposal allowing fixed line operators to provide fully mobile services after paying an entry fee.
However, the cellular operators have urged the government to plug loopholes in the licence agreement to ensure that WLL operators restrict the mobility to a local calling area.
They have also said the licence terms for limited mobility services should restrict roaming and short messaging services and make the use of V 5.2 interface, which limits the coverage area of the service provider, mandatory.
Cellular service providers have pointed out that some WLL limited mobile operators use loopholes in the licence agreement to offer virtually full mobile services.
They have also questioned the legality of limited mobile services in court, and the matter is pending before the telecom dispute tribunal.
Asim Ghosh, managing director of Hutchison and a key member of the committee, says: "We are prepared to consider an interim concession, whereby the government should stick to its policy on limited mobility services."
A committee comprising cellular as well as basic service operators was recently set up under the aegis of the department of telecommunications to resolve disputes between the warring groups.
However, basic service operators are not too keen for a compromise. S C Khanna, secretary-general, the Association of Basic Telecom Operators, said, "We will study the offer, but it is clear that text messaging and call forwarding services are part of our licence terms and there is no question of us withdrawing these facilities."
Tata Teleservices, one of the key parties to the ongoing negotiations, has, however, said it will not offer messaging services till the government gives its legal approval.
Top cellular operators point out that an earlier comprise formula, which envisaged allowing basic service operators to convert their limited mobile licences into fully mobile licences, is beset with problems.
Says a cellular operator, who is part of the negotiating team: "The migration formula is a separate story. It will require reconciliation of commercial damages.
"We will follow the law of the land and the laid down statutes, including the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act. If there is need and time for more operators, everybody should be allowed to bid for it.
"There should not be any automatic migration."