Private telecom operators today slammed Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) for charging higher interconnection fee in violation of Trai and TDSAT regulations and accused the state-run company's threats of disconnection of services in Rajasthan as "illegal and coercive".
BSNL's Rajasthan telecom circle has threatened to take action against leading private telecom operators for their failure to pay an amount of Rs 37.65 crore as carriage fee.
"We wish to inform all the consumers/CAGs of Rajasthan regarding the illegal and coercive activity of BSNL to attempt to disconnect interconnectivity between its network (both landline and mobile) and private mobile operators' network," private operators, represented by their respective lobbies, COAI and AUSPI, said in a joint statement.
If BSNL carries out its threat, subscribers of private players will not be able to make calls to the PSU's fixed line telephone users and vice versa, impacting over 45 million telecom subscribers in Rajasthan.
Terming the claims as "illegal", the associations said the move was in "clear violation of the Trai regulations of March 2009 as well as the TDSAT orders" and would impact the subscribers in the state.
"The disconnection threats by BSNL, if carried out, would result in extreme hardship to consumers in various circles of all networks including that of BSNL," they said.
The associations said Trai's Interconnect Usage Charges (Regulation 2009) mandates a private operator to pay 15 paisa per minute as carriage charges for a call to the BSNL's fixed line network within the state/circle.
"The action of BSNL goes against prevalent Trai regulation. There is no stay on Trai regulation. TDSAT has asked for review of the regulation which is part of ongoing consultation process of Trai. We are paying BSNL as per regulation but they are asking for more which is illegal," a senior official of a leading private telecom company said.
However, BSNL is unfairly trying to charge a higher amount of 65 paise per minute for such calls from all the private operators, they alleged.
"BSNL has wrongly reported the entire issue and no amount is outstanding on this account to BSNL...On behalf of the industry, we appeal to CMD, BSNL to withdraw these illegal demands," the statement said.