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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2002

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Bharti makes international calls up to 40 pc cheaper

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NEW DELHI, April 22

INTERNATIONAL call charges have finally started tumbling down, with Bharti Telesonic Ltd - the long-distance arm of the Bharti group offering tariffs that are up to 40 per cent lower than the existing rates.

Announcing this at a news conference, Mr Sunil Mittal, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharti Enterprises, noted that the tariffs, which would be made available on its ILD services being launched on May 1, would be revised downwards as and when the market demanded it.

"The present rate cut of up to 40 per cent on peak-time rates is likely to be lowered after Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) and the other ILD operators, who are yet to begin services, announce their rates. Unlike the STD services where a further rate cut may not be feasible, in the international services there is scope for more improvement,'' he said.

As per the tariff plan announced by Bharti, peak-time call charges to the SAARC region will be offered at Rs 21.18 per minute as against the present Rs 21.82, while for the rest of the world it will be Rs 24 per minute as against Rs 31.30 to Rs 40 that are applicable a now.

For non-peak hours, the call rates for the SAARC regions are being lowered to Rs 18 from Rs 18.95 per minute and for the rest of the world at Rs 21.18 per minute from the current Rs 27.69 to Rs 36.

Mr Mittal noted that although the original plan was to launch the ILD services (IndiaOne) by the middle of this month, the company was still awaiting security clearances and the commissioning certificate from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Interconnect agreements had already been signed with almost all cellular operators. The agreement with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) would also be signed in the next couple of days.

He also said that agreements with as many as nine foreign carriers across the globe had already been signed. They include AT&T, Sprint, Teleglobe, Eteselat, Saudi Telecom, British Telecom and SingTel to name a few. These nine carriers account for 90 per cent of the traffic coming to India.

"Bharti, after requisite clearances, will offer its network to all carriers on a non-discriminatory basis. Carriers will now connect to Bharti's network and enjoy rates that will enable them to offer deep discounts to the end-consumer. A total investment of Rs 100 crore is planned for the project, of which Rs 75 crore has already been spent,'' he said.

IndiaOne had laid approximately 14,000 km of optical fibre cable covering 90 cities. The company has contracted submarine cable capacity from network i2i, and backed it up with satellite connectivity to build in redundancy. The ILD network is based on IP centric backbone. The multiservices platform comprises TDM switch layer, an ATM and IP layer and intelligent network to offer value-added services, he said.

The company, he said, also planned to start offering Internet telephony services in the near future and deploy Voice over Internet Protocol to strengthen its ILD presence.

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