New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT directed state-run MTNL on 19 March to reduce the infrastructure charges collected from private operators and asked sector regulator TRAI to frame guidelines for fixation of such charges.
Allowing an appeal of Reliance Infocom Ltd (now Reliance Communications), a TDSAT bench headed by Justice Arun kumar said MTNL had increased these charges exorbitantly in an “arbitrary and unreasonable manner”.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal also held that infrastructure charges should not be increased more than 10% annually and directed Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to frame guidelines for these charges.
Infrastructure charges are paid by private telecom firms to MTNL and BSNL as rental and maintenance fees to station their link equipments such as terminals and antennas in the premises of the state-owned companies to get connected to their NLD (domestic) and ILD (international) networks.
The tribunal also directed MTNL to return the extra amount charged from Reliance Infocom within 30 days.
It rejected MTNL’s contention that Reliance’s petition is not maintainable as infrastructure charges is a rental issue and had nothing to do with telecom operations.