New Delhi, Jan. 21: Basic fixed line operators today approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), contesting the cellular operators’ demand for the payment of a termination charge to patch through calls made from basic phones/limited mobile phones to cellular users.
In a letter to Trai, the Association of Basic Telecom Operators (ABTO) has said that the charges demanded by the cellular operators (known as access charge) is not something that has come up all of a sudden. “This was part of the licence agreements signed by the cellular operators in 1995 wherein it was stated (Clause 5.7 of Schedule B) that ‘for calls originating from the fixed network to mobile, the mobile subscriber will be charged for the airtime and DoT (since the department was the only basic service provider at that time) will not have to pay any access fee to the cellular operator. The airtime charges will be collected by the cellular operator,” the letter said.
“For calls originating from a mobile subscriber to the fixed network, it was provided (Clause 5.5 of Schedule B) that ‘the licensee shall charge at the rates prescribed by the authority according to the time and day of the call. The unit rate for such calls shall be the highest slab of the DoT’s fixed network (Rs 1.40 then and now at Rs 1.20). The unit rate shall be applied as above for all calls and there are no telescopic rates,” the basic operators said.
The basic operators also contend that this access charge was levied because the cellular operators get an airtime charge for both outgoing calls as well as the incoming calls. There was no airtime charge on the basic service users/operator either at that time or even today for either incoming or outgoing calls.
If the demand of the cellular operators is accepted, and the basic operator has to pay an access charge of Rs 1.20 per three minute call, then they will be left with zero revenue because they are allowed to charge only this amount (Rs 1.20) for a three-minute call and there is no airtime charge.