Tatas lashes TRAI probe in Virgin Mobile deal

New Delhi:  The Tata Group has informed telecom regulator TRAI that it was not required by law to furnish details of its commercial and trade mark agreements with UK-based Virgin Mobile. (See: Department of telecom clears Tata-Virgin deal)

The Indian conglomerate, upset with TRAI for instituting an enquiry and questioning the legalities of the deal based on press reports, termed the regulator's attitude unfair.

Replying to the queries posed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the Tatas pointed out that questioning the legalities of a deal on the basis of press reports was unfair and also stated that operating with multiple brands in the Indian telecom industry has been practiced by all leading operators including Orange brand, which operated through Essar Mobile from 2002 – 2004, TSL said in a letter.

In a bid to stall the Tata – Virgin tie up, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) the representative body of GSM service providers, had earlier argued before the department of telecom that Virgin Mobile, part of the UK-based Branson's Virgin Group, had violated India's telecom norms by entering the country as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

Tata Teleservices had successfully countered the charge by stating before the department of telecommunications that it had no partnership for use of network or spectrum with Virgin and the tie-up was purely for non-license activities, and hence was in complete accordance with the laws of the land.

DoT had then ruled in favour of Tatas saying that the Virgin Mobile brand tariff plan completely belonged to Tata Teleservices / TTML and it was subject to the regulatory process and has been filed by Tata Teleservices / TTML with TRAI. All customers, tariff plan and the revenue belong to Tata Teleservices / TTML. "

The COAI then took its battle to the telecom watchdog TRAI, which asked Tatas to submit details of its commercial agreements with Virgin mobile.

Tata Teleservices has also said that engaging another brand as a agent or consultant to carry out operations did not require an UASL and was being done in India by Yahoo, IBM and Nokia Siemens to other telcos to carry our support functions.