State-owned, loss-making telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL), defying orders of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and also the appellate body, refuses to give connectivity to private cellphone operators in several circles.
TRAI and the Telecoms Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had directed BSNL to immediately restore all points of interconnection disconnected by it and also submit a compliance report by Friday.
However, the state-owned, former telecom monopoly refuses to budge. A top official of the Punjab circle said he had not received any directions from headquarters. BSNL has been losing money of late, with losses adding up to Rs6,000 crore for fiscal 2010-11 (See: Loss-making BSNL wants to surrender broadband licence in 17 circles )
Millions of subscribers of private cellphone operators Airtel, Idea and Vodafone in Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana have been unable to connect to subscribers of BSNL's land lines, and vice versa, following a dispute between the state-owned firm and the private operators.
BSNL claims it withdrew connectivity after giving prior notice and sufficient time to the private operators to clear outstanding charges relating to distance-based carriage charges. It says private operators owe it Rs126 crore in pan-India carriage charges. But the latter claim that BSNL owes them Rs256 crore.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents private operators on the GSM platform claims that the TDSAT had in September told BSNL that it would rule on the matter of interconnect usage charges in November. It had also told private operators to pay BSNL according to the benchmark used in July last year.