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Info-Tech - ISPs


ISPs lock horns with BSNL over leased line services

Thomas K. Thomas

New Delhi , July 14

THERE'S a new battle brewing in the telecom sector with the Internet service providers and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd locking horns over the issue of providing bandwidth for offering corporate leased line services.

While the ISPs have approached the Communications Ministry complaining that the public sector company was denying leased lines, BSNL has said that Internet operators are not permitted under the licence conditions to offer virtual private network services.

In a letter written to the telecom regulator and the Department of Telecom, the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPAI) has said, "Business interest of Internet service providers are being adversely impacted by causing delays, denial and difficulties in provisioning of requisite telecom resources and facilities especially the leased lines by the incumbent service providers BSNL and MTNL."

When contacted, senior BSNL officials said that the ISPs had no right to complain since the licence conditions did not permit them to offer private network services. They said that such a move would be unfair to operators who are paying 15 per cent of the annual revenue as licence fee as compared to a token of Re 1 paid by ISPs as licence fee. BSNL officials said that it is up to the licensor to clarify if there was any doubt on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has referred the matter to the Department of Telecom for a clarification. TRAI sources said that though the regulator's opinion was that VPN services was not part of ISPs licence, the DoT will take the final decision. DoT officials said that they were seized of the matter and had constituted a high level committee to look into.

The ISPAI has also pointed out that the TRAI regulation on accounting separation has specified that private network services were part of the ISPs licence. Virtual private network services is essentially used by corporates to connect its offices spread across the country.

"The department and the regulator are not being fair in their assessment of the issue. The committee set up by the DoT to look into the controversy does not have representation from the industry," said Mr Amitabh Singhal, secretary, ISPAI.

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