Tuesday, January 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

BSNL likely to slash STD tariff
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
State-owned telecom behemoth Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is seeking to bludgeon the competition unleashed by cellular phone operators and is expected to announce a matching tariff regime by the end of this week.

Sources in the BSNL said the restructured tariff proposal was awaiting approval from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the final nod from the telecom watchdog was expected within 48 hours.

While the details of the BSNL tariff proposal are not yet known, available indications suggest that the subscribers could be charged at the rate of Rs 4.99 per minute for a long-distance call.

In addition, the BSNL rate cut is likely to be applicable to both its fixed line and mobile networks (CellOne), unlike that of the private mobile operators whose revised tariffs are applicable only for mobile-to-mobile calls.

Cellular operators had joined the price-cut war last week by announcing a 67 per cent rate cut in national long-distance calls.

According to the new tariff structure, which has already come into effect, users will be charged at the rate of Rs 2.99 per minute for calls made from and to mobile phones anywhere in the country for a distance beyond 50 km.

The rate-cut war, triggered by an unprecedented tariff regime announced by Reliance Infocomm, which offers free incoming calls and charges 15 paise for a pulse rate of 10 seconds made from its CDMA telephones.

Industry sources, however, said that effectively the Rs 2.99 per minute call would be charged at about Rs 5 per minute if the air time rates were included.

The BSNL rate cut is likely to have a major impact on the volume of traffic, given the network’s geographical coverage which spreads across the length and breadth of the country. Besides, the BSNL is a near monopoly market leader in almost all states of the country in the fixed line business.

Presently, the BSNL has a differential tariff structure which varies according to the distance between the place of the origin and the destination of the call and also according to the time at which the call is made.


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