Telecom regulator TRAI is examining the limited fixed mobile telephony services of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd following objections raised by the cellular operators, and a decision is expected soon.
“Our team is working with BSNL…we have asked them for certain clarifications with a view to understand the entire architecture of the limited FMT service. And then we will take a view quickly,” TRAI Chairman, R S Sharma told PTI.
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Cellular operators under industry body COAI approached the telecom regulator against the limited fixed mobile telephony services announced by BSNL. BSNL’s limited fixed mobile telephony is an app-based calling service that virtually turns mobiles into cordless phones working in sync with landlines to make and receive calls within home premises.
When contacted, BSNL Chairman Anupam Shrivastava said, “TRAI has asked for certain clarifications from us to which we are responding” but did not give details. Last month, COAI had asked TRAI to intervene and direct BSNL to withdraw the new service. The industry body alleged that although the new service was being marketed as “distinct”, it is “in-principle same version of their Fixed Mobile Telephony (FMT) services” which was launched last year but subsequently withdrawn.
The operators – all except Reliance Jio, which COAI said has divergent views – further claimed that the new service is disguised as a Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN service and a violation of numbering plan and breach of licence conditions. Launching the new service last month, BSNL had emphasised that the limited Fixed Mobile Telephony (FMT) service was “different” from the Fixed Mobile Telephony service announced last year.
Last year, the telecom PSU was forced to put on hold an unrestricted version of FMT service following an outcry from cellular operators. BSNL has argued that while the earlier service allowed customers on roaming in India and overseas to connect their landlines through mobiles and make calls, the new service is restricted within the home premises.
“Landline subscribers find it inconvenient to fetch the contact details from mobiles and then dial the number on fixed line… This service will turn mobile handset into a cordless device within the home premises, which means that customers can still avail the attractive landline tariffs of BSNL,” Shrivastava had said earlier.