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Bharti Airtel, RCom lock horns over routing of toll-free calls
Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications (RCom) have locked horns over the issue of routing toll-free calls. The telecom giants have accused each other of violating an agreement reached between the two back in 2007.
According to a Hindu Business Line report, the spat between the telcos has become murkier with Airtel blocking toll-free calls from RCom's enterprise calls. In response, RCom has moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal.
It's learnt that a telecom operator manages a toll-free number in the back-end and is supposed to enter into an agreement with other telcos, so that subscribers of different networks are not charged for calls to the toll-free numbers.
According to the report, RCom had the same arrangement with Bharti Airtel, allowing subscribers to make calls to toll-free numbers, starting with ‘1800’ and ‘1860’. As per the agreement, RCom pays about 52p per call to Airtel.
The spat began when RCom allegedly started terminating calls originating from Airtel's network to a location outside India. Airtel argues toll-free calls starting with 1800 cannot be terminated outside India and that the international toll-free numbers should start with ‘00800’ and in such scenario RCom is supposed to give Rs 1.10 per call.
RCom, on the other hand, has accused to Airtel of creating an 'artificial' distinction between calls terminating in India and outside India. "Bharti Airtel does not have any locus standing or any legal right to question the numbering used by RCom or withdraw interconnection agreement for IN services... role of Bharti Airtel as an access provider is limited to handling over the calls originating from its subscribers to RCom at the nearest POI," RCom is quoted as saying.
The Hindu Business Line report also points out the stance of the Department of Telecom on the issue. It says the DoT 1800/1860 series is “meant only for national calls and cannot be used for making international calls”. The DoT is further planning to file an affidavit in the TDSAT to this effect.
Source: Hindu Business Line
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