Tribunal dismisses telco pleas against TRAI regulation on VAS

Tribunal dismisses telco pleas against TRAI regulation on VAS New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT Friday dismissed the telecom operators' pleas against TRAI regulations that had laid down the procedures for providing Value-Added-Services (VAS) to their customers.

The tribunal has given three months to the operators to implement the directions on VAS issued by TRAI on July 4, 2011 and said the telecom regulator would not take any action against them till that time.

The TDSAT bench headed by Justice S B Sinha refused to condone 412-day delay in challenging the Telecom Regulatory Authority's direction.

TRAI, while issuing guidelines on July 4, 2011 had said that telecom operators would have to take confirmation from their customers through SMS, e-mail, fax or in writing within 24 hours of activation of VAS.

It had further said the operators could charge only after confirmation is received from their customer and if not, the service should be discontinued.

Further, every service provider shall, at least three days before the due date of renewal of a subscribed value added service, inform the consumer about it through an SMS.

Opposing the TRAI's directive, GSM body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and CDMA body Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) said this regulation was unjust and unfair to them.

They had termed TRAI's directive on VAS as "unreasonable, unwarranted and without application of mind..."

In its petition AUSPI had said that TRAI's directions are "encroaching and infringing" its right to carry on business and trade and it is against the innovative and consumer friendly ideas.

While Reliance Communications, Reliance Telecom and Tata Teleservices were parties to AUSPI's petition, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Aircel were parties to COAI's plea. State-run telecom firm BSNL had also challenged TRAI's regulation before the tribunal.

TDSAT had earlier said that it would first go into the applications filed by the GSM and CDMA groups on the issue of seeking condoning of the delay.

TRAI had opposed the petition.

PTI