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BSNL hiking costs, arm twisting private operators

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 05: The OneIndia plan that enables phone calls to anywhere anytime within the country for Re one a minute has run into a string of problems with the private operators accusing Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) of arm twisting them and jacking up tariffs of distances within a 50 km radius.

''BSNL has actually jacked up costs, the carriage charges have gone up from 20 paise to 30 paise. Also 70 per cent of calls are made within the 50 km radius,'' Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Director General T V R Ramachandran tolds ources.

The operators have lodged their protest with BSNL and DOT officials. ''DOT has asked TRAI to intervene,'' he added.

The Re 1 a minute STD rate, Mr Ramachandran said was announced on the assumption that the relief given by TRAI, in the revised ADC regime, would be implemented by BSNL. The revised regime had brought down the total collection from ADC to Rs 3,300 crore, which meant that BSNL would be getting Rs 1,800 crore less than last year.

He said the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is continuing to charge higher levies from them despite a steep reduction announced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Mr Ramachandran said operators have been asked to pay the Access Deficit Charge (ADC) on a per minute basis even as the telecom regulator had introduced the new system of ADC to be calculated on a revenue share basis effective from March one.

He said the circular of BSNL on February 28, which is the implementation paper of the new plan, goes against the spirit of the OneIndia tariffs envisioned by the Communications and IT Minister Dyanidhi Maran as also the new IUC and ADC regime introduced by TRAI.

The various areas of concern, Mr Ramachandran said have been listed in a letter to BSNL whichurged for their consideration and ''urgent corrective action,''. The Intra circle carriage charges is at the rate of 30 per minute instead of 20 per minute as specified by TRAI. IUC Regulation of 23.2.2006 has prescribed no change in intra circle carriage.

In Para 2.4 of the Circular, BSNL states that transit charges of 19 paise will not be applied, but it appears that the same is being applied in some cases.

Further, in some cases it appears that BSNL has waived the 19 paise but instead applied a carriage charge of 30 paise.

On ADC, Mr Ramachandran said TRAI has prescribed that it will be recovered/collected as a percentage of gross revenues (for all calls except ILD calls). However, it appears that ADC continues to be charged on a call by call basis in some cases, he said.

As per TRAI, rural revenues of Cellular Mobile Service Providers, (CMSPs) are to be excluded while calculating ADC. However, the February 28, 2005 BSNL circular applies this exclusion only to Basic service operators (BSOs).

On billing the COAI chief said the circular should be amended to reflect billing reciprocity as directed by TDSAT. There should also be separate trunk groups for national and international roaming subscribers The TDSAT order dated 21.9.2005 directed that there should be no ADC on roaming calls and hence too, there is no requirement to have separate trunk groups for national and international roaming subscribers.

He said in the new IUC regime, a per minute ADC is payable only for incoming and outgoing ILD calls. ''In the light of the above serious flaws in the circular of February 28, 2006, it is urgently requested that the implementation of the same be stayed till the anomalies pointed out above are redressed,'' Mr Ramachandran said.


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