Mobile to fixed-line phone services disrupted in Delhi

Monday, 20 January 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: A row over interconnection of services between private mobile firms with limited radius phone players deepened Friday with cellular users here complaining of disruption in calls from cell to fixed-line phones and vice versa.

"We have been getting calls from our subscribers that are they are not being able to get through fixed-line phones in the city," said Harit Nagpal, vice president (sales and marketing) of Hutchison Essar.

Hutchison Essar is one of the two major cellular services providers in the national capital. Airtel, the mobile services arm of private telecom conglomerate Bharti Tele-Ventures, is the other big player in the sector.

"We are trying to find out the reason of this sudden disruption in services. We hope services will become normal soon," Nagpal told IANS.

The disruption in services assumes significance in the wake of the cellular operators decision Friday to approach a telecom court against the industry watchdog's directive to interconnect with limited radius private phone players.

The mobile services firms maintain they would not comply with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) order to interconnect with fixed-line firms offering a cheaper limited radius mobile service on existing terms.

By refusing to interconnect, the private mobile operators are preventing users of Wireless in Local Loop (WiLL) phone services from calling or receiving telephone calls from cellular phones.

TRAI issued notices to the defiant mobile industry players Thursday. If the companies fail to respond, the watchdog may invoke its powers to impose fines or even cancel their operating licences.

Cellular operators say they had received "threats of disconnection" from state-run, fixed-line phone companies Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL), which also provide limited mobile services.

The warnings by BSNL and MTNL, which provides fixed-line phone services in New Delhi and Mumbai, would mean private cellular users would be denied access to fixed-line subscribers and MTNL and BSNL limited radius cellular users.

"We expect that BSNL and MTNL will not let themselves get dragged into this matter and hope that they will act responsibly," said a statement issued by the Cellular Operators Association of India.

BSNL and MTNL officials were not immediately available for comment.

Hutchison and Airtel officials refused to directly blame MTNL for disruption of calls from mobile to fixed-line and vice-versa.

"We can't blame anyone before finding out the reasons. But the situation is similar to one witnessed when MTNL workers went on a strike," Nagpal said.

Source: IANS
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