BSNL keen on clear ownership of liabilities in merged/acquired TSP entities

BSNL in response to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Consultation Paper on “Reforming the Guidelines for Transfer/Merger of Telecom Licenses” said that there was an urgent need for the regulator to reform guidelines on the ownership of liabilities post-merger/acquisition of TSPs.

BSNLs’ comments to TRAIs paper were accessed by DreamDTH. BSNL offered no comments on TRAIs questions regarding changes required in the provisions of unified licenses, reforms needed in existing guidelines on Transfer/Merger of licenses to enable simplification and fast-tracking of approvals and on the provisioning of mandatory access to MVNOs in DoT guidelines.

It pointed out that it had faced and continued to face difficulties in the realization of dues of merging/acquiring entities. The telecom company had raised the issue of ownership of liability consequent to the merger of SSTL with RCOM, with DoT as well as TRAI. DoT and TRAI had however failed to provide a palpable solution. It also noted that recently another issue of merger of TTSL with BAL had come up.

DoT has not yet endorsed and taken on record the aforesaid merger and transferred DoT assets to the merged entity and also disregarded BSNL’s request for mandatorily getting an endorsement from DoT, BAL had operationalized the merger suo-moto on its side.

BSNL said that it is facing a lot of difficulties regarding billing and routing, also causing huge customer hardships as the action by BAL is in contravention to Interconnect Agreements. It pointed that DoT had not taken the merger on record, but the TSP has operationalized the merger raising question over the authority of DoT in such matters.

Other private TSPs had also operationalized the aforesaid merger but BSNL being a Govt of India PSU couldn’t bypass the procedures and mandatory endorsement of Licensor and Regulator on such matters. In consideration of the impasse created, BSNL said it was of the opinion that TRAI should have clarified in respect of the operationalization of services to avoid unnecessary hardships to customers.

The telecom service provider requested the Authority to issue specific reforms in guidelines on the following points.

1) Clear, Transparent ownership statement of liabilities following merger/acquisition of two TSPs

2) Mandatory DoT, TRAI endorsement prior operationalization of merger/acquisition by other TSPs

3) Exclusive DoT approval for transfer of DoT assets to merged/acquired entity to be in place and mandatory before the request is placed before other TSPs

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