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BSNL violating TRAI's IUC norms, complains COAI

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NEW DELHI: The Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI) has approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India against the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL) new limited fixed mobile telephony app-based calling service that virtually turns mobiles into a cordless phone.

The new service works in sync with landlines to make and receive calls within home premises.

Claiming it was like the “in-principle same version of their fixed mobile telephony (FMT) services” launched last year and subsequently withdrawn, COAI members want TRAI to direct BSNL to withdraw the new service. BSNL has so far marketed its service as “distinct”.

Interestingly, Reliance Jio has not joined in as it claims to have divergent views.

While launching the new service in mid-January, BSNL had stated that the latest limited Fixed Mobile Telephony (FMT) service is “different” from the contentious Fixed Mobile Telephony service it had announced last year. The PSU was subsequently forced to put on hold the service following opposition from cellular operators.

The operators say the new service is disguised as a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) service and violation of numbering plan and breach of licence conditions.

In its letter to TRAI, COAI has also alleged that BSNL’s service represents evasion and bypass of Interconnect Usage Charges (IUC) in the form of termination charges. “We understand that the new service will use fixed line Caller Line Identification for making calls from mobiles and currently no termination charges are applicable for calls to and from fixed line in terms of TRAI's prevailing IUC regulation,” COAI said.

If the service is allowed, other operators with landline number series may also start using the methodology for saving on IUC leading to major revenue implications, COAI has argued.

“In light of the serious concerns ... we request your kind intervention in issuing an immediate direction to BSNL for withdrawing this app-based calling service,” COAI has said.

While putting its service on hold, BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava had said the earlier service allowed customers on roaming in India and overseas to connect their landlines through mobile and make calls through them, but the new service is restricted within the home premises.

“Landline subscribers find it inconvenient to fetch the contact details from mobiles and then dial the number on fixed line ... This service will turn mobile handset into a cordless device within the home premises, which means that customers can still avail the attractive landline tariffs of BSNL,” Shrivastava had said.

Also Read:

BSNL launches FMT & Ditto TV; 4G planned this year

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