The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trai paper on basic tariff soon

New Delhi, Sept 7 (PTI): The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will issue a consultation paper on basic telephone tariffs in the next two weeks, a senior official said today.

“We are starting with a consultation paper on basic tariffs in the next two weeks,” R.R.N. Prasad, member, Trai, said here at an IT and telecom seminar.

The consultation paper is part of the tariff rebalancing act under the Trai Tariff Order (TTO), 1999, he said adding under the TTO, there were three phases which have been completed.

Pointing out that there is a huge gap in tele-density in the country, he said the government, under the recommendation of Trai, has set up universal service organisation (USO) which has a fund to reimburse rural telephony initiatives of the operators in loss-making areas. “An administrator for universal service fund is also in place. Now, the process under USF has to be accelerated,” Prasad said.

Earlier speaking at the seminar, Rajan Mittal, joint president, Bharti Televentures, said it is time the government removes policy bottlenecks and raises foreign direct investment in telecom to 74 per cent. “This country needs FDI in telecom,” he said.

Terming the government decision to allow wireless in local loop (WLL) a scar on Indian telecom industry, he said inconsistent polices would harm the operators and thereby nullify the success achieved so far. On CDMA-based WLL services, Mittal said allowing backdoor entry of such players is not wishful. There is nothing called limited mobility.

Comparing cellular and basic telephone figures of India with China, he said while India (as of August this year) has a cellular subscriber base of eight million, china has 180 million. In fixed line, India has 38 million phones while China has 200 million basic phones.

China’s advancement has largely been due to its clear policies and absence of a regulator. Why cannot that be replicated here, he asked. Prasad said India cannot be compared to China as both the countries are socially and culturally different. And as far as the absence of a regulator is concerned, China is a command economy which starts and ends with regulation only.

The seminar was organised by Ficci and the FMS, Delhi.

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