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Trai blasts cell operators

03-February-2004
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Trai blasts cell operators

Cellular operators are using the revised interconnect usage charges (IUC) as an excuse to raise their tariffs, says the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

Private cellular operators revised their tariffs upwards starting Sunday. Interconnect charges are charges payable by a telecom operator for using another operator’s network.

“As per data available with Trai, we had found that there was enough margin available with the operators to maintain the prevailing level of tariffs,” said Trai member Dr DPS Seth.

“If you add up the termination charges, access deficit charges (ADC) and the carriage charges, for each distance slab, which basically constitute the cost per call for various operators, they are still below the tariff levels that prevailed,” explained another Trai official.

If the operators want to increase tariffs, since the tariffs are forborne, they are free to do so, but it is incorrect on their part to blame the reviewed IUC regime for increase in tariffs, said the official. It may be pointed out that Trai does not fix tariffs for cellular and WLL services— they are fixed by operators.

The revised IUC regime was implemented from February 1, as had been reported by eFE. In the earlier IUC regime, the access deficit charge (ADC) component (which basically is one of the cost components of a call) was not loaded on cell-to-cell and WLL-to-WLL calls. However, it was loaded on all calls that involved a fixed line, like fixed-to-fixed, cell-to-fixed and vice-versa, WLL-fixed and vice-versa. As per the revised-IUC regime as announced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) a few months ago, ADC was loaded to cell-to-cell as well as WLL-to-WLL calls.

Moreover, the total ADC has come down to around Rs 5,000 crore from around Rs 13,000 crore in the revised IUC regime. ADC is the deficit caused due to below-cost charges for telecom service.

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