New Delhi, 7 September The Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal today pulled up the regulator TRAI for not intervening till now in the matter of recent tariff hike by three major telecom players -- Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea.
Replying to a petition by NGO, Telecom Watchdog, on last month’s hike in charges by the operators, TRAI said: “We are constantly watching in this issue... and still the charges are within the ceiling limits”.
“What are you watching. This is not a simple bird watching. You have to intervene,” a TDSAT bench headed by Justice Arun Kumar told TRAI.
Telecom Watchdog sought the regulator’s intervention on the price hike by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea and alleged that the three telcos have formed a cartel and increased local call charges by 20% along with 20-32% increase on ISD calls.
The tribunal also said it wanted a positive response from the regulator on this issue.
On this, TRAI counsel said that he would take instructions from the regulator on what they could do in this matter.
TRAI has put the tariffs under forbearance policy, through which it monitors the level of charges, after a persistent downward trend due to competition in the past.
The NGO further alleged that the trio was even violating the “principle of economics of sale” as they were charging higher tariff in Delhi in comparison to Chennai.
In Chennai, Airtel charges Rs 0.99 for local call but in Delhi it is Rs 1.20. For an SMS it was charging Rs 0.05 only in Chennai but is collecting Rs 1.20 in Delhi.
Vodafone Essar was charging Rs 1.20 in Delhi for a local call as compared to Rs 0.99 in Chennai. For STD, the operator was collecting Rs 2.65 in Delhi as against Rs 2.40 in Chennai, the NGO contended.
Meanwhile, the tribunal asked the NGO to furnish a list of consumers whom it was representing. As per the TRAI Act, TDSAT could entertain only such petitions which are filed by a group of consumers.