‘Carrier selection’ debate rages

‘Carrier selection’ debate rages
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First Published: Fri, Jun 27 2008. 03 56 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Jun 30 2008. 11 11 AM IST
New Delhi: You can choose your mobile operator, but you cannot control how your STD calls are routed. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, TRAI, wants to address that anomaly by allowing carrier selection. A system by which if you are, say an Airtel customer in Delhi, and want to make a call to Mumbai, then you will be able to route it through BSNL or Vodafone, as they might be offering a lower tariff or a better quality connection. This it believes will enable customers to avail telecom services best suited to their specific needs in terms of price and quality.
So, what is the hurdle? Most access providers such as Bharti Airtel, BSNL and Reliance communications oppose the arrangement. They argue that stiff competition in the sector has kept tariffs affordable and there is no scope for further cuts.
STD tariffs range between 80 paise to Rs1.50. Of this 65 paise are carriage charges, 30 paise are termination charges (fixed by regulator) and rest is what goes to the operator. Therefore, access providers feel that the margins are already wafer thin and the potential for further reduction in tariffs minimal.
They also say the cost of fresh investment required to allow a consumer to choose his carrier for making a STD call will be prohibitive.
But TRAI is sticking to its guns. It says carrier selection will encourage competition. It had in 2002 issued directions for implementation of carrier selection but put it on hold due to high cost of upgradation of network and reluctance of National Long Distance Operators (NLDO) and International Long Distance Operators (ILDO).
Companies such as Power Grid Corporation and Tata Communications, who are long distance operators, argue that there is a strong case for Carrier Selection as it offers wider choice and scope for further reduction in tariffs. Whatever the issues, they will have to be ironed out soon as TRAI prepares to present its report 6 weeks from now.
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First Published: Fri, Jun 27 2008. 03 56 PM IST