Wednesday, January 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cell-to-cell incoming calls free
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 21
Within 24 hours of the government-brokered truce which ended the 10-day-long slugfest, GSM cellular operators today put in place the first pillar of the calling party pays (CPP) regime by announcing free incoming calls for mobile subscribers from any mobile network.

The benefit will be available to all categories of subscribers — post-paid and pre-paid. The industry did, however, offer a veiled caution about technical hitches during the transition period before a full-fledged cell-to-cell incoming regime comes into place.

“The cellular industry is in the process of upgrading its networks and billing systems to ensure a smooth transition to the new system of free M2M ( mobile-to-mobile) incoming calls. This process could take up to a week in some service areas”, the statement said.

The transition will take place in February and the date of launch in different markets would be communicated individually by the respective operator.

The announcement is being seen as a move to pre-empt the emerging competition from the limited mobility players operating on the WLL platform who have offered all incoming calls free.

“This facility is a major step in bringing further affordability to the cellular industry, which will immediately benefit over 10 million subscribers and potential users, who are expected to join the GSM mobile network. This would further reduce mobile tariffs, which are already amongst the lowest in the world”, a joint statement issued by the cellular industry said.

The aggrieved GSM operators had taken the rather brave route of defying repeated directives of the telecom sector watchdog , the TRAI, to provide interconnect to calls emanating from WLL phones. The impasse ended yesterday when Communication Minister Pramod Mahajan assured industry representatives to look into the issues of level playing filed on an urgent basis. The cellular operators are keenly awaiting the Interconnect User Charges (IUC) regime, which is expected to be announced by the TRAI this week.

“This announcement has been possible due to assurance of an imminent ruling by the TRAI of a just and fair IUC. The industry expects that consistent with the TRAI’s own principles, the interconnect regime will be cost-based and non-discriminatory”, the industry statement said today.

In fact, GSM operators said they were in a position to “match and even better WLL (M) tariffs” if their request for identical licence conditions and terms with regard to entry fee, interconnection and other issues were adequately addressed.

Meanwhile, basic telecom and WLL operator Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) today announced two new tariff packages for its WLL-based limited mobility telecom services, one with a monthly rental of Rs 450 and 190 free outgoing calls (of three minutes each) and the second with a monthly rental of Rs 599 with 400 free calls.

Under this scheme, the subscribers would have to make an initial payment of Rs 2,600, which includes Rs 2,075 as the first instalment for the handset and Rs 525 towards activation charges. The rest of the price of the handset would be paid in 24 equal monthly instalments of Rs 150 each.

Under this scheme, called Tata Indicom 2000, the users would be getting 190 free outgoing calls and calls beyond that would cost Rs 1.10 for a three-minute call.

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