Concluding 21 days of elaborate hearing, the Madras high court on Thursday reserved its order on appeals by telecom giants Airtel and Tata assailing three regulations brought in by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) in connection with Cable Landing Stations (CLS).
CLS is an infrastructure where international submarine cables land in a country and get connected to the domestic network owned by telecom companies.
Through the newly introduced regulations, TRAI took over the power to control and decide on the charges collectable by owners of CLS for granting access to the facility to the domestic telecom operators.
TRAI claimed that the move would benefit ordinary citizens of the country by bringing down their internet, voice call, and ISD bills to one-tenth of the present cost. Airtel and Tata which own 10 such facilities across the country challenged the regulations notified on July 7, 2007 and October 19 and December 21, 2012 in the high court. But a single judge dismissed the companies' pleas through an order dated November 11, 2016.
Aggrieved, the telecom majors preferred an appeal. They alleged that TRAI had fixed the access charges arbitrarily, without appreciating the economic and financial dimension involved. Opposing the arguments, senior counsel for TRAI P Wilson contended that when other owners of CLS had not disputed the regulations, the two companies approached the court to quash the regulation which would drastically bring down the cost paid by the end consumer.
"These three regulations are vital to grow the sector in India in an orderly manner. It will also ease the burden on the consumer," Wilson said. - TOI