As per latest reports, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has asked Vodafone not to stop the interconnection of SMSes originating from RCom users across 12 circles. TDSAT's decision is based on the condition that RCom pays Vodafone an SMS termination fee of 5 paise/SMS. Following TDSAT's directive, the circles where RCom would now have to pay 5 paise are Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, North East, Orissa, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (East), Kerala and Tamilnadu.
For the rest of the circles though, where both operators met upon an agreement of not charging each other, TDSAT directed that no termination fee shall be charged till it decides on it. Interestingly, in October this year, Vodafone demanded that RCom pay Rs 11.30 crore as SMS termination fee, at 10 paise per SMS between April to September 2012.
Vodafone to not stop interconnection of SMSes originating from RCom (Image credit: Getty Images)
In its interim order, TDSAT has shared that, “By way of an interim order, it is directed that Vodafone shall not disconnect the signals of RCom in respect of 12 circles- Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, UP (West), Delhi, West Bengal, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Karnataka and Gujarat and no termination charges would be payable by any party to other party during the pendency of this petition. In respect of other circles, the SMS service of the petitioner (RCom) shall not be disconnected and whether disconnection has been taken place, the same shall be restored immediately subject to the condition that petitioner shall start paying 50 percent of the amount demanded by the respondent (Vodafone) @ 10 paise per SMS on net inflow of traffic basis.”
As per the telecom tribunal, the SMS termination tariff would be applicable from the date of filing of this petition. Recently, Idea Cellular was directed by TDSAT to not disconnect Aircel from its network. The body further stated that neither of the operators would charge SMS termination fee, till the matter is resolved. In its interim order, TDSAT noted, “It is directed that the respondent (Idea) shall not disconnect the signals of the petitioner (Aircel), no termination charge will be payable by any party to other party during pendency of these petitions.”
On a related note, TDSAT even asked Loop Mobile to pay Idea Cellular 5 paise per messages as SMS termination charges – half of the 10 paise SMS termination charges per message that Idea Cellular had sought. “.. Petitioner (Loop) will start paying 50 per cent of the amount demanded by the respondent (Idea) @ 10 paisa per SMS on net inflow of traffic basis. This amount will be calculated and paid with effect from the date of filing of this petition,” TDSAT added. Reportedly, TDSAT's order came by way of two separate petitions against the SMS termination fee sought by Idea.
Recently, Aircel was directed by TDSAT to pay Vodafone an SMS termination fee of five paisa per SMS till the TDSAT gives its final word on the matter. Vodafone had earlier sought a termination fee of 10 paisa per SMS from Aircel. In the meanwhile, Vodafone has been told to restore the interconnection of SMSes generated on Aircel's network. Noting that in the event SMS services between the two operators are disconnected, consumers would suffer, a single member-bench of PK Rastogi arrived at the interim order. A final hearing is awaited for January 10.