The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has taken serious note of the fact that customers still do not have the option of buying international calling cards from the International Long Distance Operator (ILDO) of their choice although it had been 14 years since the proposal was first rolled out to telecom service providers, MobileTor reported.
The body has now come out with regulations for the charges an ILDO must expect to pay to access providers.
Access providers are local telecom companies and ILDOs need to pay them charges for international subscriber dialling (ISD).
The rate had accordingly been fixed at 40 paise a minute for wireless services and Rs1.20 per minute for wireline services.
TRAI had directed service providers let subscribers select their NLDO / ILDO for making STD / ISD calls way back in 2002. The directive obviously ran into opposition and when it was brought up again in 2008, telecom companies said long distance operators should be allowed to sell calling cards directly to users.
Service providers had been looking to stifle even the slightest possibility for competition and a number of them offered extra steep access charges to ILDOs.
The move could end up cutting ISD rates say commentators. Access charges have been fixed at 40 paisa per minute for wireless services and Rs1.20 per minute for wireline services, PTI reported.
Under the new regulation, customers have the option of buying calling cards from any ILDO take the advantage of competition in the long-distance sector.
TRAI had in November last year issued a consultation paper on 'Revenue Sharing Arrangement for Calling Card Services'.
To extend the facility to subscribers to choose their NLDO / ILDO for their STD / ISD calls, Trai issued a direction on 24 July 2002 but implementation did not happen due to various reasons given by telecom service providers (TSPs).
According to TRAI when the issue was revisited in 2008 by it, TSPs contended that a primary objective of providing a choice of a long-distance operator could be achieved by allowing long-distance operators to issue calling cards, Trai said.
According to TRAI, the licences were amended in 2010 to allow NLDO / ILDO to issue calling cards directly to consumers.
Amendments were made to Intelligent Network Regulation to facilitate time bound agreements between TSPs.
TRAI said telecom operators, at each stage in the process, had tried to duck the introduction of competition; and their stance had shifted every time the issue has been taken up.