The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Social duty splits basic telecom players

New Delhi, June 5: The basic telecom operators are divided on the issue of access deficit charges and have proposed the creation of a fund similar to universal service obligation (USO) fund to help operators providing telecom services in unremunerative areas.

Trai has allowed Bharat Sanchar Nigam and other operators to take advantage of the access deficit charge (ADC) to help them recover below-the-cost line rentals and other benefits such as free calls in order to provide affordable telecommunications services.

The ADC works like this: if a telecom operator sets a rental of Rs 250 per month when everyone else charges Rs 280, he is permitted to pad the charges on STD and ISD call costs that he recovers from other operators to the extent of the deficit — in this case Rs 30 per customer.

According to a note sent by private operators to the regulator, “ADC should not be part of the access charges. Instead, a fund should be created to contribute to this deficit which functions in the same manner as the USO fund. The aim of the entire exercise should be to phase out the deficit over a period of time.”

The other proposal given by the operators to the regulator suggests scrapping the ADC regime and evolving a new mechanism to resolve the issue. A presentation made to Trai also says there are differences between the private basic operators and the government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam.

“With its vast networks and greatest market share, another look into BSNL’s access deficit calculation is required to examine whether a deficit actually exists in totality. It may be providing a cushion to BSNL as it may be recovering this deficit from its other services,” says a presentation made by a basic telecom operator to Trai.

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