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FLAG asks Govt to help lower access charges

Our Bureau

VSNL says bandwidth prices have fallen

New Delhi , Aug. 16

International bandwidth provider FLAG Telecom has sought the Government's intervention in bringing down the landing station access charges imposed by the Tata managed Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL). The Reliance Communication controlled company has alleged that VSNL was charging 150 times higher than the international norms for giving access to its landing stations in the country.

Standardised RIO

FLAG has proposed to come out with a standardised reference interconnect order (RIO) for international long distance segment in order to ensure uniform landing station access charges. This is in line with the RIO which is in place for the domestic long distance segment. The RIO was part of the TRAI recommendations, which has not been cleared by the Department of Telecom.

FLAG has said that lower access charges may result in cheaper international bandwidth to the Indian ITeS and BPO industry. The communication from the company to the Government stated that the landing access charges presently levied were as high as the cost of international private leased circuits , thus resulting in increased costs.

VSNL sources said that the allegations were baseless and bandwidth prices have already come down by 70 per cent.

VSNL, FLAG battle

FLAG and VSNL have been at loggerheads for the last three years. An international tribunal had recently asked VSNL to allow complete access to the landing station of FLAG that is in VSNL premises at Mumbai. The tribunal had also asked VSNL to allow FLAG to upgrade its cable from the current 10 GB capacity. Reliance had recently expressed its intentions of upgrading the cable capacity to 150 GB. However, Reliance sources said that until the landing station access charges were not brought down, international bandwidth users would not get the benefits. VSNL was given three months time till August 22 to comply with the tribunal's orders. While VSNL sources said that they have complied to the orders fully, sources close to FLAG said that it could appeal to the tribunal again if VSNL did not adhere to the earlier verdict.

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