Bharti Airtel blocked SMSes from Aircel & Reliance customers


Nov 9, 2010
Sparks are flying ahead of Diwali in India's telecom market after the country's largest mobile phone company, BhartiBSE -0.34 % Airtel, closed its network to incoming text messages from subscribers of two other operators, Aircel and Reliance CommunicationsBSE -2.22 %.

Bharti AirtelBSE -0.34 % executives said the company was forced to do this after the two companies started flooding its network with what they described as "free spam messages", a charge that has been vehemently denied by RCOM and Aircel. "They (Aircel and RCOM) are sending free SMS to our networks, which, in turn, is impacting the quality of service on our network and, therefore, the quality of service to our own customers," an AirtelBSE -0.34 % spokesperson said.

Aircel and RCOM, in turn, allege that Airtel was resorting to pressure tactics just days before Diwali to force them to pay more towards SMS termination charges. Executives of the two companies also accused Airtel, founded by billionaire Sunil Mittal, of abusing its dominant position.

"The timing of this step on the eve of Diwali reflects Bharti's blatant disregard for the interests of millions of customers and is another instance of abuse of market position by Bharti," an RCOM spokesperson said.

RCOM, the second-largest mobile phone operator by users offering services on both GSM and CDMA technology platforms, also slammed Bharti for "unilaterally taking this coercive action on an issue that was sub judice before Supreme Court and was also under consideration by sector regulator Trai". But, an executive close to Airtel defended the company's move saying "allowing any misuse of our (Airtel's) network would compromise the quality of service for our own customers during the festival season".

Companies may Take Dispute to Court

"Bharti Airtel has asked us to sign a bilateral interconnect agreement, which says 10 paise per SMS will be charged to a non-Airtel customer. We are resisting this as the cost for our customers would go up significantly," the Aircel spokesperson said.

The two companies may take the matter to court this week. The issue dates back to November 2011, when Airtel demanded that Aircel, which is majority-owned by Malaysia's Maxis, pay 10 paise for every text message terminating on its network. Subsequently, Airtel raised a bill of about 25 crore for the period from April to October 2011.

In January, Airtel sent a notice asking Aircel to pay the amount by the end of that month. Aircel approached the telecom tribunal (TDSAT) claiming that the dues claimed by Airtel were "arbitrary, illegal, wrong, unilateral and without any basis". But, in September, the telecom tribunal ruled in favour of Airtel. Aircel has challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Bharti Airtel shuts network to SMSes from subscribers of Aircel & Reliance Communications - The Economic Times


Incoherent Poster
Aug 14, 2011
Gurgaon | Mumbai
Sad that some of the comments on the article are pro airtel.


Not just Internet.
Sep 5, 2008
New Delhi
cant they put a case is competition commission of india, you cant charge 10 p per sms when you are giving sms to end user for as low as 1p per sec
May 13, 2010
I think blocking customer SMS is totally unfair. Is it not illegal I am surprised ?! Whatever differences is there between operators need to be solved without affecting the customers is it not ? Should not the regulators and gov step in take strong actions to avoid such things from happening ?


Oct 7, 2006
I am even more irritated that they dont bother to inform the customers or even apologise for inconvenience caused. But they send dozens of messages for bill generated, bill sent, password for bill, paper bill received by you, payment received but subject to clearance(even when its netbanking), payment confirmed every single month.


Nov 21, 2010
Cuddalore, TN
facing same , messages to aircel is not getting delivered

airtel is becoming a Hor--tel now

got a sms from airtel now

airtel has been ranked the no1 service brand in the economic times brand equity " most trusted brands" survey 2012

wat a cheap hoooore :D

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