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TRAI issues tariff format for service providers

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The guidelines are intended to help the consumer to be better aware of the overall financial expenditure incurred under any particular tariff package.

New Delhi , Aug. 1

THE Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a set of guidelines for all service providers, specifying that the customer has to be informed of the exit and migration options for all the new tariff plans that are sought to be introduced.

It has spelt out a tariff format for consumer information, which should be published/advertised by the telecom service providers for tariff plans.

These guidelines are intended to help the consumer to be better aware of the overall financial expenditure incurred under any particular tariff package, and will also help the consumer to compare various tariff packages which are on offer.

According to an official statement, the new set of guidelines mandate that the publication/advertisement of tariffs should include the tariff information in the specified format, which includes among others, information on the entry level cost viz. security deposit, advance, etc., rental and other monthly recurring charges such as plan fee, membership fee, commitment charges, monthly free call allowance taxes, and the financial implication for the customer in terms of rupees per month for minutes of usage.

The authority has also directed all service providers that direct interconnection between their networks should be in place at the earliest and not later than three months from this day.

This follows complaints by private cellular operators that Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) was not providing direct interconnection for its cellular services.

"Various stakeholders were representing the authority regarding the issue of provision of direct connectivity between the networks of service providers. Private cellular operators mentioned that they have borne the interconnection costs for the existing interconnection link between their networks and BSNL's PSTN network. Further, they only bear all upgradation costs, whenever required. Therefore, BSNL cellular should seek direct connectivity with the existing private cellular mobile service providers, instead of transiting calls to other cellular operators through the interconnection links provided by the cellular operators between their networks and BSNL's PSTN," they had noted.

TRAI noted that these representations were analysed in terms of ensuring a level-playing field and protecting consumer's interest.

The authority noted that transiting traffic between service providers in the same service area entails avoidable transit charges that are eventually passed on to the consumer by the service provider in the form of higher tariffs.

"In order to ensure effective interconnection between different service providers and to fix the terms and conditions of interconnectivity between the service providers as per clauses 11(1)(b)(iii) & (ii) of the TRAI (Amendment) Act 2000, the authority directed under Section 13 of the TRAI Amendment Act 2000 that direct connectivity should be made between the service providers at the earliest and not later than three months from the date of issue of this direction.

However, transiting of traffic in the exceptional cases (viz. in the cases of overflow/disruption of traffic on direct interconnection route or in cases where there is insufficient traffic and direct interconnection may not have techno-economic justification) may be permitted through any BSO based upon mutual agreement between the service providers," it ruled.

Compiles 2002-03 performance indicators

THE Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has compiled several performance indictors of the telecom sector highlighting the trends during the last financial year (2002-03).

This compilation is intended to present a broad prospective on the industry in the country and is primarily being brought out to serve as a reference document for various stakeholders, research agencies and analysts. It is available on its Web site www.trai.gov.in for easy access by stakeholders and other interested parties.

According to an official statement, the report includes the details for each category of service providers and their area of operation for the designated service. It also provides information on the telecom infrastructure including transmission systems and switching capacity of incumbent operators and new entrants in the country.

This compilation includes the performance and quality of service status of basic, cellular and Internet services vis--vis benchmarks, it details the growth pattern of subscribers base, usage pattern and average revenue per subscriber (ARPU) for basic and cellular services of various telecom services in the country etc. The data is presented in tables as well as graphs.

The data shows that the subscriber base of basic service had crossed 40 million and the number of rural DELs reached around 11 million as on 31st March 2003. This also includes the contribution of wireless in local loop (Fixed) [WLL(F)] and wireless in local loop (Mobile) [WLL(M)] connections.

The number of villages covered through VPTs has shown upward trend with 513,127 villages having VPTs by March 2003 as compared with 469,010 by March 2002, out of a total 607,491 villages. The number of PCOs has increased to 1,493,364 by March 2003 as compared with 1,078,345 by March 2002.

As far as cellular mobile service is concerned, the subscriber base has almost doubled during the financial year 2002-03. As on March 2003 the subscriber base of cellular mobile service was 12.69 million as against 6.40 million in March 2002. Further, the customer tariffs for mobile service have reduced to almost lowest in the world due to competition.

Internet services have also shown an upward trend and the subscriber base crossed 3.6 million by March 2003. Since April 2002 Internet telephony was also permitted for ISPs and its usage is gaining a slow momentum with 37 ISPs having started Internet telephony by March 2003. Use of advanced access technologies for broadband connectivity has also made a beginning during the year.

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