India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) plans to issue UK-backed cellco Vodafone India a INR1 billion (USD16.9 million) fine in relation to providing subscriber local dialling (SLD) services, which bypasses roaming charges by transferring calls to a local network, in 2003-2005. The Economic Times cites the DoT as stating: ‘It was emphasised that such type of service violates the national routing and numbering plan, and in an unauthorised fashion, bypasses the national long distance traffic. In spite of the DoT instructions on June 20, 2003, the company hadn’t stopped the unauthorised service it was providing in the name of direct connect or optimal routing and continued to provide it until 2005.’
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, rival cellco Bharti Airtel was issued a INR6.5 billion fine earlier this month for providing SLD in 13 circles over the same period. Both providers received the maximum penalty of INR500 million for each operating area. Airtel has challenged the charges, saying that the level of penalty was ‘disproportionate’, adding that the service only generated a few hundred thousand rupees and that the DoT was aware of this fact.