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BSNL refuses to reinstate connections with rivals

The Indian state-owned operator BSNL has shunned calls from the regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) to restore connections that it has deliberately disrupted. The operator’s customers are currently unable to call subscribers on three of India’s biggest networks - Airtel, Vodafone and Idea – and vice versa.

The disruption has resulted from a disagreement over interconnect charges between the four operators. Claiming that it made its plans known to the other operators as it is bound to do so by interconnect agreements, BSNL has disconnected various interconnect points in the Punjab circle.

TRAI has deemed the outage as being “against the interest of the consumers and service providers”, but nonetheless BSNL has ignored the deadline set by the regulator for the resumption of services. Instead, the operator has asked that TRAI revoke this order, maintaining that it has disconnected its fellow operators as they have failed to pay its interconnect charges.

BSNL may be obliged to restore the interconnections if the country’s Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) rules against its actions. The TDSAT will pass judgement on the cases of Vodafone, Idea and Airtel next month, having previously ruled that BSNL must restore connections with Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications.

Although the current outage has predominantly affected the Punjab circle, others – among them Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Goa – have, according to the Indian operator alliance COAI, “been severely affected by the coercive disconnection activities.”

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