Telecom operators oppose ‘carrier selection’ service

June 27th, 2008 - 9:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) Telecom companies Friday questioned the proposed ‘carrier selection’ service that will enable subscribers to switch networks to make long-distance calls. At an open house session here organised by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Friday to discuss the feasibility of the service, telecom operators said it was not viable as long-distance call rates in India were among the lowest in the world and competition had increased.

Carrier selection is a service that enables subscribers of one service provider to make long-distance calls (STD and ISD) through any other operator network.

It is different from Mobile Number Portability (MNP) as here, subscribers do not have to migrate to another telecom service provider permanently, but have the option to route only long distance calls through the other network.

The state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), one of the largest telecom service providers in the country, said telecom companies would be forced to make fresh investments to upgrade infrastructure.

“Prices of STD and ISD calls in the country are already one of the lowest in the world,” deputy director general Sanjeev Kumar Sethi said in his address to the TRAI panel chaired by Nripendra Misra.

“We feel that allowing carrier selection will force existing license holders to upgrade their infrastructure to meet the technical requirements, the investment will lead to higher prices contrary to what is desired,” he added.

Reliance communications general manager (Regulations), Manish Gupta, raised doubts over the effectiveness and accrued benefits for the consumers.

“The economic model is not viable for the Indian scenario where already STD tariffs are as little as Rs.1.50 per minute with 12 operators competing.,” he said.

Gupta said if the carrier selection had to be implemented, it should be done simultaneously for mobile, both pre-paid and post-paid, as well as fixed line consumers.

Said Harish Kapoor, Tata Teleservices additional vice president for corporate regulatory affairs: “We had supported the service in 2001, but now we are against it as the market has matured, rates have down, and operators have increased.”

Interestingly, its sister concern, Tata Communication (formerly VSNL), highlighted the potential benefits of the service and advocated its implementation.

The open house discussion attended by major telcom companies, consumner groups and National Long Distance (NLD) license holders focused on TRAI’s consultation paper on the issue released May 7.

In the consultation paper, TRAI said carrier selection would enable customers to obtain better services at competitive prices.

TRAI has already forwarded its recommendations for the latter to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT). “Now it’s in DoT’s jurisdiction, they will decide when to make the services available for subscribers,” TRAI member R.N. Prabhakar told IANS.

This is the second time after 2001 that TRAI has initiated deliberations over carrier selection. Then, the consultations were stalled because of BSNL’s lack of interest and NLD license holders were few.

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