Reliance Communications moves SC against SMS termination charges

Termination charge is supposed to be paid by the operator on whose network the SMS originates to the operator on whose network the SMS is sent


Reliance Communications has approached the court over an order passed by TDSAT, which mandated payment of termination charges for SMS @10 paisa per message. Photo: Bloomberg
Reliance Communications has approached the court over an order passed by TDSAT, which mandated payment of termination charges for SMS @10 paisa per message. Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: Reliance Communications Ltd. on Tuesday moved the apex court against fixation of 10 paisa as SMS termination charges, which are to be paid to the company whose subscriber receives the message.

Termination charge is supposed to be paid by the operator on whose network the SMS originates to the operator on whose network the SMS is sent.

The company has approached the court over an order passed by Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which mandated payment of termination charges for SMS @10 paisa per message.

A bench comprising of Justices Kurian Joseph and Shiva Kirti Singh issued a notice to Bharti Airtel Ltd. which had demanded a bill of Rs11.86 crore towards termination charges by Reliance Communication Ltd. and clubbed the case with another case dealing with the question of termination charges.

In TDSAT’s impugned order of 31 March, fixation of 10 paise as SMS termination charges was upheld and Reliance was directed to make the pending payment against termination charges to Airtel.

Seeking to set aside TDSAT’s order, Reliance claimed that fixation of 10 paise as termination charges was “arbitrary, non-reciprocal, non-transparent and discriminatory”.

It has been further claimed that while doing so, TDSAT had failed to consider SMS Regulations, 2013, which had followed a cost based method and accordingly fixed termination charges @ 2 paisa per SMS.

The impugned judgment is contrary to the regulations and statutory directions issued by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which provides that termination charges between telecom operators will continue to be on ‘bill and keep’ arrangement, according to the petition, a copy of which Mint has reviewed.

Under the bill and keep regime, telecom operators neither raised bills on each other nor way any payment made under SMS termination charges.

The case will be heard next in September.

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