Decided on April 12,2005



- (1.)PETITIONER is an association of Radio Paging Service Providers (RPSPs). Its members - (i) DSS Mobile Communications Limited, New Delhi; (ii) Modi Korea Telecom Limited, New Delhi; (iii) Microwave Communications Limited, New Delhi; (iv) Page Point Services (I) Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore; (v) RPG Paging Services Limited, New Delhi; (vi) Easy Call Communications Ltd., Hyderabad; (vii) Telesistem (I) Private Limited, Bangalore; (viii) Matric Paging (I) Pvt. Ltd., Bombay; (ix) ABC Communications (I) Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi; (x) Usha Martin Telekom Limited, Chennai; (xi) Hutchison Max Telecom, Bangalore; (xii) BPL Telecom Limited; (xiii) Punwire Paging Services Limited, Chandigarh; (xiv) Punwire Mobile Communications Limited; (xv) BPL Wireless Telecom Limited, Bangalore - are licensees within the meaning of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997 (in short TRAI Act), of the Union of India, Department of Telecommunications, as Licensor.
(2.)As will be seen hereinafter there are two types of Radio Paging Service Providers, depending upon the area of operation i.e. City Paging & Circle Paging. At the outset it was stated by the learned counsel for the Petitioners that he is confining this Petition only to City Paging Service Providers. By this petition under Section 14 A (1) read with Section 14 (a) (i) of the TRAI Act, the Petitioner seeks the following relief:-
"a) pass an appropriate order/direction directing the Respondent to waive fixed license fee of Radio Paging Operators from the beginning and consequent directions for refund of the same and/or adjustment against dues on the basis of revenue sharing;

b) pass an appropriate order or directions directing the Respondent to allow the Radio Paging Operators to continue to operate on the basis only of sharing of revenue with the Respondent;

c) pass an appropriate order or direction directing the Respondent to ensure directly or indirectly to compensate monetarily the loss of profit and business of RPSPs and fix the future terms and conditions of the license in a reasonable, rational and non-arbitrary manner;

d) pass an appropriate order or direction directing TRAI to look into and examine the grievance of the Applicant, the economic structure of the paging industry and recommend suitable measure for relief to RPSPs so that level playing field is ensured; and

e) pass such further or other order(s) and/or direction(s) as this Hon'ble Tribunal may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case."

Facts and circumstances giving rise to this petition are briefly as under:-

* With the privatization of telecom services in 1992 the Government of India started the process of awarding license to private operators for providing both Cellular and Radio Paging Services in the country.

* Paging provides one way text communication basically used for employees of service sector e.g. carpenters, electricians, deliverymen etc. The communication is in the form of audio text service in alpha-numeric code.

* For awarding the license for Paging Services, the Government classified them into two categories depending on the area of operation i.e. City Paging and Circle Paging. City Paging License restricted the licensees to operate within the city for which license was given. Whereas Circle license defined a large area including a few cities also. There was no duplicity, however, as regards operation was concerned in the sense that a Circle licensee could not provide service in a city if there was a City licensee for that particular city. Such cities were excluded from Circle licenses.

* Both City Paging and Circle Paging, Licenses were issued in 1994 and 1995 respectively and they were valid for 10 years. They started operating an year later. In case of City Paging there was a fixed License Fee for the first 3 years to be paid in the said 3 years; in respect of License Fee for the balance 7 years it was to be fixed later on. The payment was made in first 3 years in the ratio of 1:2:3 in each year. In so far as Circle Paging was concerned, License Fee was fixed for 10 years at the initial stage itself. The payment was to be made spread over a period of 10 years in the ratio of 1:1:1:1:1:1.2:1.2:1.2:1.2:1.2 in each year.

* Since the targets set out in the National Telecom Policy 1994 (NTP 1994) could not be achieved, the Government formulated the National Telecom Policy 1999 (NTP 1999) to boost the development of telecom sector and announced a Migration Package for shifting from the Fixed Licence Fee Regime to the Revenue Sharing Regime. The Paging Operators were offered Migration Package on 2.9.1999 which was same for City and Circle Paging Operators providing for License Fee @ 15% of revenue from the 4th year onwards. The Circle Paging Operators accepted this package but could not honour the term subsequently. Since the package did not offer any concession or benefit to City Paging Operators (since their fixed licence fee obligations was there only during the first 3 years and after that TRAI had already recommended a license fee of 5% of the revenue) they did not accept the offer of migration.

(3.)LEARNED counsel for the Petitioner, Mr. Amit Chaddha, pleaded the case for relief only for City Paging Operators. He said that the treatment meted out to City Paging Operators vis-�-vis Circle Paging Operators was discriminatory.

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