Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Aug 14, 2004
Internet providers mull legal action against BSNL
Thomas K. Thomas
New Delhi , Aug. 13
INTERNET service providers are contemplating legal action against state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd for allegedly not providing resources, including leased line connectivity, which is crucial for the survival of the ISP business.
The move comes after discussions between the Internet Service Providers Association of India and the Department of Telecom fell through without resolving the concerns of the service providers.
ISPs had also met the telecom regulator seeking intervention in their complaint against BSNL.
According to industry sources, TRAI also did not give any assurances that the concerns of the ISPs would be looked at. "Under the circumstances, when both TRAI and DoT have refused to intervene in the matter, the ISPs are left with no option but to approach the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal. We are now taking legal advice on whether we should exercise this option or not," said an Internet service provider.
TRAI sources said the regulator could not intervene since it was a matter relating to licensing and DoT was the ultimate authority in such matters. "We have made recommendations to the Government on the issues raised by the ISPs. It is up to DoT to implement it," said a TRAI official.
ISPs have complained that BSNL was "purposely" not giving leased line connectivity, which was affecting their bottomlines.
BSNL, on its part, said it was not flouting any licence norms.
Officials said that as per the licence norms, ISPs were not allowed to offer virtual private network services using leased lines and therefore, it was under no obligation to give bandwidth.
They also said that it was up to TRAI and DoT to decide whether ISPs were allowed to offer such services.
Almost 50 per cent of ISPs' revenues come from offering leased line connectivity to corporate customers.
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