New Delhi: India’s mobile phone operators will challenge a Delhi high court order that upheld the telecom regulator’s decision to make it mandatory for service providers to compensate users for call drops.

Telecom industry associations Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI) will appeal the order in the Supreme Court.

“The initial drafts are ready for submission to the court," a senior executive with one of the major telcos said on condition of anonymity.

“The lawyers are giving them final look overs and deciding on the senior lawyers that will represent them in the case," he added.

COAI is the lobby group for the operators that use the GSM technology standard while AUSPI represents those that use the CDMA standard, including Reliance Communications Ltd and Tata Teleservices Ltd.

As reported by Mint on Monday, a Delhi high court bench comprising chief justice G. Rohini and justice Jayant Nath dismissed a clutch of petitions filed by COAI and 21 telecom operators and stakeholders, including Bharti Airtel Ltd, Aircel Ltd, Vodafone India Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd.

The telecom regulator had on 16 October issued a notification that the telcos would have to credit 1 to a user for every call drop, subject to a maximum of 3 per day, from 1 January.

The telcos challenged this notification on 11 December in the Delhi high court, claiming that additional compensation would cost the companies 54,000 crore a year.

The high court had said that since the penalty order had not been stayed, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India could implement its decision retrospectively.

The industry associations’ appeal is likely to focus on two aspects, rather than the 18 listed by the court, in its final judgement.

These include the fact that Trai does not have the power to impose a penalty, cess or tax and the fact that the quality-of-service norms laid out in the licence agreement between the government and the telcos allows for up to 2% exemption in the service quality.

“It is a globally accepted norm to allow for up to 2% poor quality. The quality of mobile services is dependent on many things that are out of the control of the telcos and expecting 100% service quality is impossible," the executive cited above added.

“The network standard or tolerance of 2% imposed by the Quality of Service Regulations has been prescribed as a quality parameter for the entire network area and the same is distinct from the compensation provided to the consumers for the dropped calls," the 39-page judgement had said.

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