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TRAI okays Bharti's tariff plan

G. Rambabu

NEW DELHI, Jan. 24

THE Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has approved the revised STD tariff plan of Bharti Telesonic Ltd (BTSOL), even as it has withheld approval to the company's interconnect agreement with cellular operators for mobile-to-mobile STD calls.

The approval of the tariff plan, which matches the STD rates of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), is in effect a green signal for the company to commence its national long-distance (NLD) operations from January 26, as scheduled.

According to Mr N. Arjun, Chief Executive Officer, BTSOL, the company is now all set to commence its NLD operations.

To begin with, the cellular operators who had reached an agreement with BTSOL will start routing mobile-to-mobile STD calls through its NLD network.

The remaining cellular operators are still working on the agreement which will be filed with TRAI soon, he said.

However, the issue of revenue to be shared between both these parties (cellular operators and BTSOL) has still not been resolved by the authority.

Until the authority approves their interconnect agreement, the current rate of 95:5 as levied by BSNL will continue to hold, he added.

In other words, while 95 per cent of the revenue from such STD calls will accrue to Bharti, the remaining five per cent can be retained by the cellular operator on whose network the call originates.

In the interconnect agreement filed with TRAI, Bharti had sought to change this revenue share by giving the cellular operators a higher share, inducing them to route all STD calls on its networks instead of BSNL.

Mr Arjun said that even if TRAI does not approve the interconnect agreement before January 26, it would not hamper the company's NLD operations.

It had already got the licence to offer these services and even the nod from TRAI for its tariff plans.

According to industry sources, one reason why the authority is withholding approval to the revenue share agreement between Bharti and the cellular operators is that it is finalising its recommendations on "Interconnection between Access Providers and National Long Distance Operators'', which will specify the modalities of all such deals.

Its final recommendations are due to be submitted to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) sometime in the middle of February, after which all such agreements will have to follow a set pattern.

The authority has already scheduled an open house discussion on the issue in Delhi for Friday.

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