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TDSAT dismisses Home Systems’ appeal challenging BECIL findings

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has dismissed Mumbai-based multi-system operator (MSO) Home Systems’ application challenging the tribunal’s 21 January order which allowed Star India to raise invoices for the months April–November 2014 based on the BECIL report.

The MSO had alleged that the SMS count given by BECIL for the period in dispute is the total number of subscribers on the network and not the total number of authorised subscribers, which, as per the petitioner, is the relevant number for making payments to the broadcaster.

The tribunal said it is convinced that the procedure adopted by BECIL, which is also the statutory authority for carrying out technical audits, is correct and that there is no error in the report of BECIL. The matter has been put up for further directions on 6 April.

Home Systems counsel Jayant K Mehta argued that the figure calculated by BECIL for active subscribers is based on command logs of SMS. He submitted that sometimes a command is given in the SMS with wrong STB number or VC card number, which leads to the same subscriber being counted multiple times. He said that BECIL has made an error in arriving at the figure of active subscribers. He further submitted that there are three different numbers possible in SMS and that is why there is a need to reconcile the SMS and CAS data.

As per BECIL, it has taken active subscribers both from the SMS database and from the CAS database. Further, since the figures obtained from the SMS database were lower than the CAS database, BECIL discussed this with the petitioner at the time of audit. As per BECIL, it is due to a stop (suspension) command that may suspend a subscriber in the SMS, but the entitlement for the subscriber remains intact in CAS. BECIL, accordingly, added all such subscribers that were in suspension to the active subscribers to arrive at the SMS figures.

As per BECIL, a subscriber who is temporarily suspended cannot be considered as a deactivated subscriber. If such a subscriber was to be counted as deactivated, this could lead to a situation where there is under-reporting of subscribers as the service provider may use this command to suspend the subscribers temporarily for some time at the time of taking the SMS figures and immediately thereafter restore them to active status.

With regard to the submissions made by Mehta on command logs, the tribunal noted that the difference between the SMS and CAS figures is so large that the explanation given by Mehta is not convincing.

It noted that the intent of the MSO was to use the stop command to doctor the SMS reports but due to this, the SMS reports lost their credibility and legitimately became suspect in the eyes of the respondent. Such SMS reports cannot be used to objectively determine the subscribers of the petitioner.