India’s largest cellco by subscribers Bharti Airtel has closed its network to incoming text messages from rivals Aircel and Reliance Communications (RCOM), reports the Economic Times. Bharti claims that the duo are flooding its network with ‘free spam messages’, which are negatively impacting the quality of service to the cellco’s own customers. Aircel and RCOM meanwhile, have accused Bharti of using pressure tactics and abusing its dominant position in the market to drive up SMS termination charges. A spokesperson for Aircel said: ‘Bharti Airtel has asked us to sign a bilateral interconnect agreement, which says INR0.1 (USD0.0018) per SMS will be charged to a non-Airtel customer. We are resisting this as the cost for our customers would go up significantly.’
Last November, Bharti made a similar request to Aircel, demanding INR250 million in SMS termination fees for the period April 2011 to October 2011. Aircel refused and took the matter to the Telecom Disputes Settlements and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which ruled in favour of Bharti. In September this year Aircel challenged the TDSAT verdict in the Supreme Court, which is yet to rule on the matter.
A spokesperson for Bharti noted: ‘[The] Court has upheld that SMS termination charges have to be paid. In spite of this, some operators are not paying. They want to use the network without paying and without signing a contract. This contradicts the court orders.’