Calls to Pakistan to be cheaper with OFC operational next yr

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New Delhi, Nov 12 (UNI) The tariffs for international long-distance (ILD) calls from India to Pakistan is all set to be cheaper, with the optical fibre cable link between the countries expected to be functional next year.

Currently, the tariffs for ILD calls from India to Pakistan are among the highest due to lack of direct connectivity.

''I am sure in 2009 the optical fibre link between India and Pakistan would get fully functional,'' Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh said.

At present, data and voice traffic between India and Pakistan are routed through landing stations situated in a third country, which pushes up service cost.

Earlier, the Pakistani government had not allowed VSNL to bid for taking an ILD licence.

Speaking at a conference on India-Pakistan Economic Relations here, he said he is somewhat frustrated at the slow pace of progress on the issue of opening bank branches in both the countries.

The Minister expected that the State Bank of India and the Bank of India will open their branch in Pakistan next year, whereas Pakistan's National Bank of Pakistan and Union Bank of Pakistan will start operations in India.

''Applications have yet to be made, but I hope that by 2009 we will see two Indian banks functioning in Pakistan and vice-versa,'' he said.


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