India's largest telco Bharti Airtel has closed its network to incoming text messages from subscribers of two rival operators, Aircel and Reliance Communications.
Airtel executives said it was forced to do this after the two companies started flooding its network with "free spam messages", according to an article Monday in the Economic Times.
"They [Aircel and Reliance] are sending free SMS to our networks, which, in turn, is impacting the quality of service on our network and, therefore, the quality of service to our own customers," an Airtel spokesperson said in the report.
However, both telcos deny the allegations and claim Airtel's move was a pressure tactic just ahead of the festive holiday Diwali to force them to pay more for SMS termination charges.
"The timing of this step on the eve of Diwali reflects Bharti's blatant disregard for the interests of millions of customers and is another instance of abuse of market position by Bharti," a Reliance spokesperson said in the report.
Reliance also slammed the company for undertaking the move unilaterally without consulting regulators, but Airtel defended itself saying "allowing any misuse of our network would compromise the quality of service for our own customers during the festival season".
According to Aircel, it had been asked by Airtel to sign a bilateral interconnect agreement, which said 10 paise (US$0.0018) per SMS will be charged to a non-Airtel customer--an issue that has dragged on since Nov. 2011.
"We are resisting this as the cost for our customers would go up significantly," the Aircel spokesperson noted in the report.
Both companies are expected to dispute the charges in court.