The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cellular companies miffed at bias in access charges

New Delhi, Nov. 19: Private cellular operators today fired a fresh salvo against limited mobility operators alleging discrimination on ‘access charges’ levied on their subscribers, which, they say, has been encouraged by the telecom regulator.

Access charge is a tariff component paid by a cellular subscriber when making a call from a mobile to a fixed line or a limited mobility telephone. Currently, a mobile subscriber is charged Rs 1.20 for this—and the fee that is collected by the cellular operators is given to fixed line or limited mobility service providers.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has accused the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) of ‘regulatory favouritism’.

“Trai has allowed the discrimination to persist and has in fact encouraged it. It has now chosen to club the access charges issue with the basic service tariff consultation. This is grossly incorrect as access charges parity lies firmly within the realm of interconnect regulations and has no relationship whatsoever with the tariff-setting principles of fixed line services,” COAI said in a letter to the telecom regulator.

In the same letter, COAI has stated that when a cellular mobile subscriber calls a fixed line operator, the former is forced to pay Rs 1.20 as access charges for calling a fixed line, in addition to the airtime. Subscriber using a WiLL limited mobility phone pays only Rs 1.20 to the WiLL operator and does not have to pay any access charges even while calling a rival network.

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