TRAI pulls up Idea and Airtel for discriminatory levies on new operators

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has pulled up operators Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular for imposing discriminatory charges on new operators to deliver their SMS to Bharti and Idea subscribers.

The Authority has asked the two to immediately comply with the law which requires any ‘inter connect’ charge to be transparent and equitable towards all operators.

In its investigation, TRAI found that Idea and Airtel were charging SMS delivery charges only from the new operators and not from the old ones (like Vodafone.)

The telecom industry is already divided into two camps, with old operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea ganging together to protect their interests, while new operators like Videocon, Loop and MTS are eager to extend their share of the market at the expense of the old ones.

Companies are allowed to charge other operators for delivering their SMS and voice calls to the former’s subscribers. The fee, called ‘inter connect’ charges, is currently at 20 paise per minute for voice calls, while it is left to negotiations in case of SMS.

Many operators offer free or nearly free SMS services to their subscribers and even a 5 paisa termination charge by other operators will lead to huge losses for the offering operator from such schemes.