The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Basic players unite to pare land-line rates

New Delhi, Jan. 29: Private basic telecom operators are seeking to forge a slew of commercial agreements with other telecom players in an effort to pare land-line user costs after the recent tariff revision announced by the telecom regulator.

The basic operators have indicated that they do not intend to explore legal avenues to challenge the new tariffs. However, they will continue to lobby the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for the creation of a level playing field.

S. Ramakrishnan, president-elect of the Association of Basic Telecom Operators (ABTO), said: “We will not take any action against the Trai order that will interrupt the services to consumers. We, as an association, will approach the regulator and present our views.”

Trai chairman M.S. Verma today said the regulator will not take a re-look at the tariff and the interconnect user charges (IUC) announced last week for the basic operators.

ABTO sources said members of the association are likely to enter into commercial arrangements with each other and other telecom service providers in order to trim costs.

“The business managers of all the companies are negotiating with each other and a commercial arrangement may be reached soon that will allow all the operators to reduce the impact of this burden due to the hike in tariffs scheduled to start from April 1, 2003. If the operators are not able to reach a conclusion, then a few of them will have to pass on the cost to the customers,” said sources.

ABTO applauded the decision of the regulator to place wireless in local loop (mobile) service under forbearance, which will allow basic operators to respond with alacrity to customer demands.

“It is the basic telecom services that really needs the level playing field. The basic service industry is today placed on a very non-level playing field vis-à-vis the cellular industry,” the ABTO said.

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