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Phone rate rejig waits for a month

New Delhi, March 27: The new telecom tariff that was to come into effect from April 1 has been delayed by one month to allow Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) to upgrade its hardware and software and a few private operators to formulate additional tariff plans.

The new standard tariff plan announced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) early this year will come into effect from May 1.

This means the hike in monthly rentals and free incoming calls from fixed and wireless in local loop (limited mobility) telephones to cellular phones will also be delayed by a month.

A senior official in BSNL said, “We had informed Trai in advance that it will not be possible for us to undertake the billing since the necessary hardware and software were not in place. We had sought one month’s time.”

Sources said: “This is not the only reason for delaying implementation of the new plan. Since many of the cellular operators had not signed the interconnect agreement in spite of the stipulation of interconnect user charge by the regulator, Trai has been forced to delay the process to avoid inconvenience to the customers.”

The revision of the date of implementation of new tariff and also the amendment to the interconnect user charge (IUC) regulation were notified today.

Service providers were told in January that they will have to implement the standard tariff package with effect from April 1.

“We have received various alternative tariff plans from service providers on March 10 and 24, and these needed detailed consideration. These have been communicated to the service providers who have been asked to file plans in consonance with the IUC regime to the authority in compliance with the provisions of the 24th amendment to the Telecom Tariff Order,” said a senior Trai official.

Further, the fact that consumers need to be informed on the choices available pursuant to the contours of the standard tariff plan outlined in the 24th amendment to the Telecom Tariff Order and the consequent alternative tariff plans, the authority felt that it would be in the interests of the consumers that end users are informed well in advance about the plans by different service providers.

The service providers are required to file all tariff plans with the authority by April 4 that would be implemented from May 1.

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