Friday, January 07, 2005

Voila !! phone calls go cheaper ...

TRAI cuts levy for private operators

NEW DELHI, JAN. 6. Subscribers of private telephone service providers, both fixed line and mobile, are likely to pay lower rates for long distance national and international calls from February 1.

This is because the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today announced a reduction in Access Deficit Charge (ADC), a levy paid by private telecom operators to the State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to support its operations in rural areas. The TRAI Chairman, Pradip Baijal, said the existing ADC component for national long distance calls had been fixed at a uniform rate of 30 paise a minute against the existing system of three slabs.

At present, the ADC is 30 paise (calls made up to 50 km), 50 paise (50 km-200 km) and 80 paise (above 200 km). Similarly, for international calls, the new ADC component will be Rs. 3.25 a minute for incoming calls and Rs. 2.50 a minute for outgoing calls against the prevailing uniform rate of Rs. 4.25 a minute. Local call charges are unlikely to change as the current ADC of 30 paise remains unchanged.

`Rural operations will not be hit'

Mr. Baijal said that lower ADC would not hamper BSNL's rural operations since the enlarged subscriber base expected with the lower rates would ensure that collections would remain at the present level of Rs. 5,000 crores. "Due to exceptionally large increase in minutes that fund ADC, the per minute ADC has been decreased. Moreover, the ACD regime has been simplified to help convergence and death of distance," Mr. Baijal said, hoping that it would be followed by a competitive market response resulting in a reduction in call charges.

Stating that TRAI would closely monitor the tariff change, Mr. Baijal said that "for the next six months we will study the data, and if ADC collections are good, we might reduce ADC further." The reduction in tariffs of international calls would also help tackle the problem of illegal routing of international calls besides ensuring a consistent growth in international calls.

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