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Madras HC upholds TRAI regulations on charges for cable landing stations

July 03, 2018

The Madras High Court has refused to strike down the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India regulations pertaining to access charges levied by owners of cable landing stations (CLS), where submarine cables providing international connectivity terminate in the country. The court, however, has struck down the tariff fixed by TRAI in 2012 which lowered charges levied by CLS owners to one-tenth of the existing tariff on ground of lack of transparency.

The recent order was passed on writ appeals by Tata Telecommunications and Bharti Airtel challenging an earlier order of a single judge who had upheld three TRAI regulations of 2007, October 2012 and December 2012.

The TRAI had amended the International Telecommunication Access to Essential Facilities at Cable Landing Stations Regulations and taken over the power to control and decide the charges levied by the owners of CLS for granting access to the facility to the domestic telecommunication operators.

While the court has upheld the powers of TRAI to make such regulations, it has directed the regulator to redo the process strictly in accordance with the existing laws within six months.

CLS facilitates connection between the submarine cable and the domestic network owned by the telecommunication companies. The appellants, who collectively own a majority of the 16 CLS in the country, argued that TRAI had fixed the access charges arbitrarily, without taking in account the economic and financial dimension involved.


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