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Trai issues new regulations for international calling cards

PTI 20 Aug 2014, 8:21:47 AM IST
New Delhi: In a move that could lower ISD rates, telcom regulator TRAI Tuesday fixed the rate payable by international long distance players to local operators.

TRAI in a statement said access charges has been fixed at 40 paisa per minute for wireless services and Rs 1.20 per minute for wireline services.

Access charges for international subscriber dialling (ISDs) are paid by international long distance operators (ILDO) to local players.

In the current prevailing regime, a consumer does not enjoy the option of choosing his/her ILDO and is dependent on access providers for making ISD calls.

Under the new regulation, customers can buy calling cards from any ILDOs and get the advantage of competition in the long distance sector.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had in November last year issued a consultation paper on 'Revenue Sharing Arrangement for Calling Card Services'.

To provide the facility to subscribers to choose their NLDO/ILDO for their STD/ISD calls, TRAI issued a direction on July 24, 2002 but it could not be implemented due to various reasons given by telecom service providers (TSPs).

"When this issue was again revisited in 2008 by the Authority, TSPs suggested that a primary objective of providing choice of a long distance operator could be achieved by allowing long distance operators to issue calling cards," TRAI said.

TRAI said the licences were amended in 2010 to allow NLDO/ILDO to issue calling cards directly to consumers. Intelligent Network Regulation was also amended to facilitate time bound agreements between TSPs.

The Authority noted that at each stage in the process, TSPs have tried to dodge the introduction of competition; their stance has shifted every time the issue has been taken up, it added.

TRAI said when the Intelligent Network Regulations were amended in 2012 to facilitate interconnect agreement so that consumer get choice of NLDO/ILDO, TSPs dragged their feet and no consensus could be achieved.

"Some access providers offered unrealistic access charges to ILDOs making the entire process non-starter," TRAI added.

There are about 27 ILDOs that have permit to provide ISD services and 34 National Long Distance Operators (NLDO) that can provide STD service.

However, some of these ILDO and NLDO are part of main telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, RCom, Vodafone and BSNL.

To infuse more competition and offer more options to telecom consumers, the government has allowed companies that only have licence for international long distance and national long distance telecom services to directly acquire customers to offer ISD and STD service through 'calling cards'.

A user of a calling card is required to dial a certain prefix code on his/her phone to make calls using network ILD or NLD operators.

Since companies having only ILD and NLD cannot have direct access to customers, they are required to go through telecom service providers, mainly mobile operators.