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The Madras High Court today reserved its orders on a batch of petitions challenging the regulations of TRAI pertaining to access charges levied by owners of cable landing stations (CLS), where submarine cables providing international connectivity terminate in India. The first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sunder reserved its orders on writ appeals by Tata Telecommunication Ltd and Bharti Airtel. The pleas were filed challenging an earlier order of a single judge who upheld three Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulations of 2007, October 2012 and December 2012. Written submissions were filed by all the parties as per the court directive. By the three regulations, TRAI had reduced the access facilitation charges levied by the CLS owners to 1/10th of the existing rates following complaints that the charges by the petitioner firms were excessive. The regulator had submitted that the rate cut would ultimately benefit the internet users. It had also argued that the two companies had formed a duopoly and refused to give effect to TRAI's regulations even till today citing the pendency of litigations. Of the 16 CLS in the country, eight are owned by Tata Telecommunication, four by Bharti Airtel and the rest by TCL, Reliance and BSNL. The high court had commenced hearing in the case pursuant to directions of the Supreme Court on May 9 this year and concluded the same on October 11.
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