Telecom tribunal TDSAT has directed Vodafone not to stop interconnection of SMSes originating from RCom customers in 12 circles, subject to the condition that the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group firm pays 5 paise per message to the GSM operator.
However, for the rest circles, where RCom and Vodafone had an agreement not to charge each other, Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) said no termination fee should be charged till the tribunal decides on the issue.
On October 25 this year, Vodafone had demanded Rs. 11.30 crore as SMS termination fee from RCom at 10 paise per SMS for the period between April to September 2012.
SMS termination charges are paid by an operator from whose network SMSes originate to the one on whose network these communications end. These charges impact tariffs.
The circles where Rcom would now have to pay 5 paise are Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, North East, Orissa, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (East), Kerala and Tamilnadu.
"By way of an interim order, it is directed that Vodafone shall not disconnect the signals of RCom in respect of 12 circles- Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, UP (West), Delhi, West Bengal, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Karnataka and Gujarat and no termination charges would be payable by any party to other party during the pendency of this petition," said TDSAT in its interim order.
"In respect of other circles, the SMS service of the petitioner (RCom) shall not be disconnected and whether disconnection has been taken place, the same shall be restored immediately subject to the condition that petitioner shall start paying 50 percent of the amount demanded by the respondent (Vodafone) @ 10 paise per SMS on net inflow of traffic basis," said the telecom tribunal.
TDSAT further said that this 5 paise tariff would be calculated from date of filing of this petition.
Both parties are bound to follow "terms and conditions of the contract and have no right to modify the same unilaterally as long as agreement is continuing," according to TDSAT.
In its letter this year, Vodafone had told RCom that on failure to pay the amount, SMSes services would be withdrawn from November 9, 2012. This was challenged by RCom before the TDSAT.