TRAI slashes long-distance call rates

By : |August 31, 2000 0

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has announced a sharp cut in the tariffs for domestic long distance calls (STD) and international calls (ISD). The rates would come into effect by October 1 and be effective till March 2002. It has, however, decided to leave local call rates and telephone rentals untouched. There has been no increase in the telephone rentals.

As per the new tariff rates, the maximum relief of Rs 4.80 per minute has been given in STD calls for a radial distance of over 1000 km with a pulse rate of Rs 1.20. This rate now stands at Rs 25.20 per minute as against the earlier Rs 30. A maximum relief of Rs 12 was announced for international calls made to countries in the American continent and other places in the western hemisphere, from Rs 61.20 per minute to Rs 49.20 per minute.

In large exchanges in metropolises like Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai, where pulse rates are Rs 1.20 per minute, the rates have been slashed by Rs 3.60 per minute for calls made to places within a distance of 200 km to 1,000 km. For calls made to places that are over 1,000 km away, the rates have been slashed by Rs 4.80 per minute. There is no change, however, for STD call rates up to 200 km.

In places where there are smaller telephone exchanges and in rural areas, the cuts have been more modest. For example, an STD call from a rural exchange in the distance slab of 200 km-1,000 km will now cost Rs 2.40 less per minute where the pulse charges are Re 0.80 per minute. The rates have been reduced by Rs 3 per minute in this slab where the pulse charges are Re 1 per minute and the exchanges are slightly larger.

ISD rates for calls made from large metros have also been cut. Calls to the SAARC countries, which used to cost Rs 30 per minute till now, will cost Rs 25.20 per minute from October 1. Calls to the Gulf, Africa, Europe and other Asian countries will now be charged at Rs 40.80 per minute compared to the earlier Rs 49.20 per minute.

Last year, the TRAI had suggested a three-year ‘tariff re-balancing exercise’ under which by April this year STD and ISD call rates would have fallen more than what is now being proposed and local call charges and telephone rentals would have increased. However, due to stiff opposition, TRAI deferred the re-balancing exercise to October, instead of carrying it out in April 2000 which was the deadline for the second phase.

TRAI has refrained from touching the local call tariffs and rentals, which are considered to be politically sensitive issues. After implementing the first phase of tariff re-balancing last year, the Department of Telecom Services (DTS) had suffered a revenue loss of around Rs 2,000 crore in the last fiscal, mainly on account of reduced long distance tariffs. The Department had said that the traffic had not increased in proportion to the reduction in tariffs.

According to the government, the expected loss due to the announcement in reducing tarrifs would go up to Rs 800 crore which is expected to be partly compensated by the increase in volumes. The government is in the process of studying the implications of the announcement.

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