Cellular Telephony in India 2002

Jan 01, 2002

    • March 21
    • Government issues final guidelines for Internet Telephony (IT) services.
      Key highlights of the guidelines are :

      IT Services to be offered only by ISPs from April 1, 2002.This service can be offered on PC to PC (within & outside India.PC to Phone (PC in India to Phone outside India Between IP based H.323 /SIP terminals (within & outside India) using IP addressing scheme of IANA.

      IT Services to be different in nature, scope from services offered by FSPs, CMSPs, NLDOs, etc.IT Services DO NOT include Voice communication by dialing a number as per national numbering plan.Origination of voice communication from a phone in India.Terminating a voice communication on a phone in India.Establishing connection to any PSTN in India.Dial up line with outward dialing facility from nodes.Interconnectivity between ISPs who are permitted to offer IT services & those who are not offering these services.

      QOS parameters as specified by TRAI (at present, not specified) Tariffs to be as prescribed by TRAI If Government deems it necessary, can impose license fee and USO obligation any time during validity of license.Suitable monitoring system to be set up by ISPs at their own cost.

    • March 27
    • DOT issues guidelines on USO. Announces the creation of Universal Service Fund (USF) starting April 1, 2002 to extend support to the basic and cellular service providers for meeting their universal service obligations.Highlights of guidelines are :

      Universal support to be extended from 2002-03.

      Reimbursement from USF will be under 2 streams with Stream I getting priority over Stream II.

      Stream I
      Net Costs towards opex

      For installation of VPTs in the 6,07,491 villages identified in 1991 census, (which should have been covered by 31-03-2002)

      Net Costs towards both capex and opex

      For villages identified in the 2001 census,
      For a second public phone in a village, with population >2000
      For replacement of VPTs installed with MARR before 01-04-2002.
      For upgradation of VPTs tp PTICs
      For installation of High speed PTICs

      Stream II
      Net Costs towards both capex and opex
      For provision of household telephones in Net High Cost Areas Implementation of USO through multi layered bidding process.USO Fund to be administered by DoT
    • April 18
    • DoT issues notification for Spectrum Usage Charges for Microwave Access and Backbone.
      Spectrum Charges for Microwave Access

      For spectrum bandwidth upto 112 MHz in Circles & upto 224 MHz in Metros - 0.25% of Adjusted Gross Revenues per annum.For every additional 28 MHZ (in Circles / 56 MHz (in Metros) or part thereof, if justified & assigned - 0.05% of AGR p.a. Above charges inclusive of royalty for spectrum usage & license fee for fixed stations in MW access links.

      Spectrum Charges for Microwave Backbone

      For spectrum bandwidth upto 56 MHz - 0.10% of AGR p.a.For every additional 28 MHz or part thereof, if justified & assigned - 0.05% of AGR p.a. Above charges inclusive of royalty for spectrum usage & license fee for fixed stations in MW access links.Assignment of MW access & backbone frequencies not to be exclusive, but shared between services / users

      Applicability of Notification

      If proposal is accepted in its entirety All legal proceeding with respect to spectrum charges are withdrawn Applicable from date of issue - 18-04-2002.

    • July 12
    • TRAI Issues the Telecommunication Interconnection (Reference Interconnect Offer) Regulation, 2002 (2 of 2002).Read More

      Highlights of the Regulation are:

      Regulation directs that every telecommunication provider holding significant market power shall publish a RIO within 90 days of issue of this regulation.Service providers will not be required to obtain prior permission for entering into IC Agreements, but after an agreement has been signed it will have to be registered with the TRAI in accordance with the TRAI regulations.

      Salient Features of the Model RIO are :

      IC with a minimum number of E1 ports as ascertained by the IC Provider, required for the launch of service, shall be provided with 90 days of payment of demand note, unless found to be technically non-feasible.Full capacity required should normally be provided within 6 months of firm demand Unbundled Network Elements costs of both switching and transmission, which shall form the basis for IC Usage Charge for various types of calls.

      More than one service provider may share IC infrastructure like transmission medium such as OFC & equipment for building up leased circuits for different operators, subject to terms and conditions of agreement under which such infrastructure has been provided.Each operator normally responsible for billing his own subscribers, however, NLDO/ ILDOs to make their own arrangements to bill customers for their services. They may either bill directly or negotiate with Access Providers to bill and collect revenue.

    • October 7
    • BSNL appeals in TDSAT against Clause 2.2 of the TRAI Tariff Order (23rd amendment) The said clause while prescribing forbearance on cellular tariffs, requires that : “…. a cellular mobile service provider who provides any other facility based service such as Basic service, National Long Distance service or International Long Distance service in the same service area in which it is providing cellular mobile services, shall report to the Authority for its approval in respect of any new tariff and/or any changes therein at least 5 working days before its implementation. Unless the Authority intervenes within the mandatory notice period of five working days, the service provider may implement the proposed tariff."
    • October 10
    • COAI submits Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) on behalf of Cellular Industry. TRAI approves the same. According to the Offer, the cost of terminating a call on a cellular network is Rs. 2.72 per minute while the cost of origination on a cellular network is Rs. 3.06 per minute.
    • October 19
    • BSNL launches country wide cellular mobile services and announces tariffs for the same.
    • October 22
    • RAI issues Press Release clarifying its position on BSNL tariffs for cellular mobile services.
      TRAI clarifies that the pre-paid tariffs and post-paid “Plan-325" of BSNL had been approved by the Authority as an "Introductory" offer, and that these would not be available for more than 90 days, and that before the end of this period, regular and duly approved tariffs for the relevant services area would be introduced by BSNL.
    • November 1
    • COAI submits response to TRAI Consultation Paper No. 2002/3 on Tariff for Basic Services. The highlights of COAI response include :
      No service should depend on subsidies from any other service. Access Deficit Charge (ADC), should be recovered from same service segment by charging differential tariffs for different types of customers.
      Concept of asymmetric regulation be introduced and enforced.TRAI may prescribe specific tariff package for low-end users. For the rest, only a ceiling and floor tariffs should be laid down.
      TRAI should fix originating & terminating access charge on a per minute basis for different categories of access providers. Originating access charge be prescribed at a higher level than terminating access charge since originating access provider incurs additional costs towards cost of unsuccessful calls, billing, collection and bad debts.
      As NLD and ILD are now separately licensed stand alone services, NLD/ ILD calls charges should be de-linked from the local call charges and should be prescribed on a per-minute basis so as to be in line with the basis for levying originating / terminating access charges.
      WLL (M) tariffs principles must be strictly adhered to as they were the fundamental basis on which the service was introduced this includes local call at the highest tariff applicable to fixed line services, cost based rental, etc.
    • November 1
    • COAI makes submission to TRAI stating that the tariffs of BSNL’s prepaid cellular services as also the tariffs in “Plan 325” are predatory, involves bundling of services and are discriminatory. COAI requests TRAI to intervene and take suitable remedial measures in this matter.
    • November 7
    • Idea Cellular launches cellular mobile service in Delhi.
    • November 21
    • COAI files Application in TDSAT for directions to FSPs to stop violations of the TDSAT status quo order dated 18.03.2002 in respect of the COAI Petition with regard to absence of MSCs and the use of specified PSTN interface V5.2 in the provision of WLL (M) services. The Application specifically impleads Tata Teleservices Limited and Reliance Infocomm, two of the country’s largest private FSPs, as media reports indicated that these two companies were ordering, commissioning and installing MSCs to offer their WLL(M) services.
    • December 17
    • Supreme Court delivers its verdict on WLL (M) it sets aside the TDSAT Judgment upholding the service and remits the matter to the Tribunal for reconsideration with special emphasis on the question of level playing field. The Supreme Court also affirms that the fixed service operators would be bound by the ultimate decision of the Tribunal. Some of the observations made by the Supreme Court are :

      The Tribunal committed an error by holding that it exercises supervisory jurisdiction.The Tribunal has the power to adjudicate on any dispute.Tribunal also committed yet another error in holding that the jurisdiction of the appellate tribunal cannot be wider than that of the Supreme Court.
      The conclusion of the Tribunal that nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of pursuing the objective of increasing tele-density in the country and that the decision being a policy decision, is not liable to be interfered with by the tribunal, cannot be sustained Non-consideration of materials on a vital issue by the tribunal would constitute a substantial question of law within the meaning of Section 18 of the Act.
      The bald conclusion of the tribunal that the cellular operators had been compensated in various ways and the erosion of profits has also been taken by the entry of the fourth-cellular operator, cannot be held to be a conclusion on the issue of level playing field In a concurring judgment, Mr. Justice S B Sinha made the following key observations:
      The Tribunal had arrived at certain findings without application of its mind on various vital issues including the issue of its jurisdiction The Tribunal failed to assign sufficient or cogent reasons in support of its findings. In relation to some issues, no reason has been assigned. Some issues although noticed have not been adverted to. Some issues have even not been noticed The impugned Order of the Tribunal does not fulfil the criteria of a judgment.
      The premise of the Tribunal that its jurisdiction is limited or akin to the power of judicial review is wholly unsustainable. The Tribunal failed to take into consideration the amplitude of its jurisdiction and thus misdirected itself in law.
      Having regard to the assertion made by the appellants that 85% of their business is related to SDCA only, the Tribunal ought to have addressed itself on the issue as whether one service is a substitute of the other or not.
      The Tribunal has failed to give a finding on whether WLL (M) is a new service within the meaning of NTP-99, whether it is within the policy or outside the policy amounting to a change in policy, whether the conditions attached by the TRAI and its recommendations of January 8, 2001 have been satisfied.
      Consumer interest is only one of the relevant factors. It by itself cannot be decisive. It can only be taken into consideration if the actions of the Central Government and the TRAI were within their respective jurisdiction.
      Tribunal has proceeded on the basis that the Government is entitled to change its policy without considering that according to the Government, it was not a change of policy, only a fine-tuning of policy.

    • December 20
    • TDSAT clarifies the status quo order issued by it on March 18, 2002 in respect of the Petition No. 5 of 2002 filed by COAI seeking to ensure the absence of MSCs and use of only a PSTN interface such as V5.2 in WLL (M) services.
      The Tribunal directed DoT and TRAI to strictly enforce the decision of the Government dated January 25, 2001. The said decision states that

      “Basic Service Operator may provide handheld telephone sets to its subscribers with Wireless Access Systems limited within the local area i.e. Short Distance Charging Area (SDCA) in which the subscriber is registered. While deploying such systems, the operator has to follow numbering plan of that Short Distance Charging Area (SDCA) and it should not be possible to authenticate and work with the subscriber terminal equipment in SDCAs other than in which it is registered. The system shall also be engineered so as to ensure that hand over of subscriber does not take place from one SDCA to another SDCA while communicating.”

    • December 24
    • TRAI finalizes System on Accounting Separation (SAS), providing a detailed accounting and financial system to be maintained by telecom service providers and forwards the same to DOT for notification under section 35(2)(d) of the TRAI Act.. The requirement of maintaining separated accounts is applicable to all licensed telecom service providers. The system proposes separation along the following lines:
      License/Service-wise Separation
      Geographical Separation -
      Product/network service-wise Separation
      Separation of Network Costs
      The system is to be implemented from April 1, 2003. Accounting Separation based on Current Cost Accounting is scheduled for implementation two years thereafter, i.e. from April 1, 2005. Service Providers would also be required to submit reports based on Current Cost Accounting every second year in addition to annual accounts based on Historical cost.
    • December 28
    • Reliance lnfocomm launches WLL (M) services.