New Delhi: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Monday asked Bharti Airtel to immediately restore the SMS interconnection of Reliance Communications (RCom) on its network.
Bharti Airtel had closed its network to incoming text messages from subscribers of Aircel and RCom and said it was forced to do this after the two companies started flooding its network with “free SMS”.
Passing an interim order, TDSAT member Pramod Kumar Rastogi directed Bharti Airtel to restore termination of RCom’s SMS on its network by Monday. The TDSAT interim order came over a petition filed by RCom requesting the tribunal to direct Bharti Airtel to restore the interconnection. The tribunal has listed RCom’s petition on 22 November for the next date of hearing. “As per the interim order from TDSAT, interconnection for SMS from RCom will be restored till final hearing on 22 November,” a Bharti Airtel spokesperson said.
Accusing Bharti Airtel of pressure tactics, Aircel said it has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. “Bharti Airtel has asked us to sign a bilateral interconnect agreement with them where 10 paise per SMS will be charged to a non-Airtel customer. We are resisting this as the cost to our customers would go up significantly,” an Aircel spokesperson said. Aircel filed the appeal on 10 November. “We have filed an appeal against the TDSAT order which is pending for interim relief before the Supreme Court,” the spokesperson added.
Termination charges are paid by an operator from whose network calls or SMSes originate to the one on whose network these communications end. When contacted, a Bharti Airtel spokesperson said, “We follow a completely non discriminatory policy with all operators on the matter of interconnection for SMS services. However, two operators have chosen to adopt a discriminatory practice. They are sending free SMS to our networks which in turn is impacting the quality of service on our network and therefore quality of service to our own customers,” the spokesperson added.
Stressing that it is in full compliance with court orders and/or the agreements on SMS termination, Bharti Airtel advised these operators to “follow non discriminatory SMS interconnection practices to ensure uninterrupted and high quality service to their customers.”