TTSL withdraws from COAI amid claims of bias

13 Jul 2010

Tata Teleservices (TTSL) has announced that it has resigned from industry lobby group the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the Economic Times reports. TTSL said that it had withdrawn from the industry body, which represents the interests of GSM-based cellcos, accusing it of being ‘undemocratic, biased, non-transparent and unethical’, with the operator also noting in a letter to the COAI: ‘We have found that COAI is not a transparent association and represents the views of only a few selected old players, as all powers/rights are vested in their hands.’ The development follows reports at the end of last week that the COAI had barred three operators – TTSL, Loop Telecom and Etisalat – from exercising voting rights in the group, claiming that the trio had failed to pay ‘disputed’ dues. TTSL swiftly claimed that it had paid all of its dues however, although it did acknowledge that it had declined to share legal expenses in respect of cases filed by the COAI against TTSL itself.

TTSL signed up to the COAI in early 2008, after it obtained concessions allowing it to offer pan-India GSM services alongside its CDMA-based services. The operator’s exit from the group echoes that of Reliance Communications, which withdrew last year claiming that the lobby only represented the interests of large GSM operators. Both TTSL and RCOM remain members of the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI), the industry lobby for CDMA and dual licence holders.

In response to TTSL’s decision the COAI director general Rajan Mathews noted: ‘They [TTSL] felt that the COAI was not supporting them on their CDMA business. It is natural that an industry body representing GSM players will not support the demands of CDMA operators. We feel that [they] are frustrated that their CDMA business is not doing too well and they wanted to use COAI as a punching bag so that they don’t have egg on their face.’

India, Etisalat DB (formerly Swan Telecom), Loop Mobile, Reliance Communications (RCOM), Tata Teleservices (TTSL, incl. TTML)