Airtel, Tata Comm isolated on cable landing station fee issue

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Business Line : Industry & Economy / Info-tech : Airtel, Tata Comm isolated on cable landing station fee issue


Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications have been isolated on the issue on the regulating cable landing charges.
Other telecom companies, including Reliance Industries, BSNL, Vodafone and Reliance Communications, have joined ranks with foreign international long distance telephony giants in seeking TRAI's intervention in the matter.
While Airtel and Tata Communications want landing charges to be determined by market forces, others have written to the telecom regulator that it should set the fee. Cable landing station is the physical place where international undersea cable gets connected to the domestic network. More than 90 per cent of the landing station is owned by Airtel and Tata Communications. Other telecom companies claim that the charges fixed by the two companies are exorbitant.
“This is turning out to be a major issue in proliferation of internet and broadband services as operators not having access or access at higher price are out-priced by operators having cheaper access to these resources which distort competition in the market and disturb the level playing field,” Infotel Broadband, the telecom subsidiary of Reliance Industries, said.
“There is an urgency that the Authority regulates the cost based Access Facilitation Charge and Co-location Charges,” Vodafone India said in its submission to the TRAI.
But Tata Communications said that the majority of operators that are complaining about the high charge did not invest in setting up cable landing station. “This clearly demonstrates that access to cable landing station is indeed freely available to long-distance operators and market has matured in India therefore there is no need to continue regulating access to the CLS,” the Tata company said.
Bharti Airtel said if the charges are regulated by TRAI then it will impact the owner of cable landing station in India as it limits its capability to negotiate with foreign players while connecting to networks in their respective countries. The company said that with Sify and BSNL planning to build landing stations, there will be at least five different owners of this facility and hence there will be adequate competition in the market.
“We believe that the CLS market in India is very competitive and at a maturity stage. The CLS is no longer a bottleneck facility,” Airtel said.