RCom connect: Airtel, Vodafone hold out; most firms to link up

RCom connect: Airtel, Vodafone hold out; most firms to link up
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First Published: Wed, Aug 20 2008. 10 44 PM IST

Still talking: BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal.
Still talking: BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal.
Updated: Thu, Aug 21 2008. 01 59 PM IST
Mumbai: With a day to go for the deadline set by the country’s telecom regulator for mobile phone operators to connect calls to and from Reliance Communications Ltd’s (RCom) new GSM mobile phone networks, five of the nine major cellphone operators agreed to the directive, a spokesman for the Anil Ambani-led RCom said on Wednesday.
Of the remaining, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, or BSNL, is in talks with RCom but two heavyweights, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Essar Ltd, have not changed their stance that since RCom’s GSM licence is new, a new interconnect agreement needs to be negotiated.
Still talking: BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal.
RCom, India’s second largest mobile phone service firm by subscribers, predominantly uses networks that run on what is known as CDMA standard. Three of four Indian mobile phone customers are served by the rival GSM standard.
“All the major mobile phone companies—Idea Cellular Ltd, Spice Communications Ltd, Aircel Cellular Ltd, Tata Communications Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) have agreed to provide interconnectivity to RCom’s GSM calls. We are talking to BSNL and we find no reason why they will refuse to connect RCom calls,” the RCom spokesperson said.
“We are in a dialogue with them (RCom)... There has been no conclusion yet on the outcome of our talks on an agreeable interconnection arrangement,” BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India. Late night, the agency reported Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and BSNL “are understood to have agreed to link with” RCom, without naming the source of the information.
A Vodafone Essar spokesman said his firm’s executives in charge of regulatory affairs were in talks with RCom counterparts and the outcome was not immediately clear. Bharti Airtel will make “a final decision” on Thursday, a spokesman said. Executives at Spice, Aircel and MTNL were unavailable for comment.
“The real issue was the renegotiation of the existing agreement. Now, they (RCom) have come to us with a new agreement, the interconnection of calls was opened by both the sides,” Sanjeev Aga, managing director, Idea Cellular, said.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had last week directed GSM firms to comply with its interconnection directive by 21 August and had warned of legal action.
PTI contributed to this story.
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First Published: Wed, Aug 20 2008. 10 44 PM IST
More Topics: RCom | GSM | Airtel | Vodafone | Idea |