In a fresh move, the Telecom Disputes Tribunal has ordered Aircel to pay Rs. 5ps per SMS to Vodafone as a SMS termination fee until the matter is fully resolved by the Tribunal. The tribunal has also asked Vodafone for instant restoration of its SMS interconnection generated on Aircel network.
Reportedly, the interim ordered by Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) came out as a blow to Aircel at the same time giving a momentary satisfaction for Vodafone who filed the suit against Aircel. Vodafone had demanded Rs.10 ps per SMS as the termination fee a few months back and even ceased the termination of SMS traffic in around 5 circles.
A single-member bench of P K Rastogi was of the view that this interim settlement was essential as users are getting impacted with SMS services not going through in many circles. The tribunal has granted three weeks time for Vodafone to consider the plea submitted by Aircel and two weeks for Aircel for filing the rejoinder. The final hearing is scheduled for January 10, 2013.
During October this year, Vodafone demanded Rs. 40 crore as SMS termination fee together with applicable tax. Aircel however opposed it saying that their original agreement was on a ‘bill and keep’ basis and the decision by Vodafone to charge Rs.10 ps per SMS as a termination fee is ‘arbitrary and illogical’. Vodafone had given Aircel 15 days to settle their dues. Tribunal has intervened at the right time and passed this interim judgement which could be a relief to many Aircel users.
The Telecom Disputes Tribunal was stated as saying, “There is a need to examine whether the rates of termination charges demanded by the respondent (Vodafone) are in accordance with the regulation.” It also stressed on the need to examine whether such charges are transparent, reciprocal and non-discriminatory.