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Bharti dials international — Tariff war hots up

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NEW DELHI, July 19

BHARTI Telesonic Ltd, the long-distance telephony arm of the Bharti group, has announced the commercial launch of its international long-distance (ILD) services under its brand name `IndiaOne.' This makes it the first private operator to start operations in direct competition to the incumbent operator, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL).

According to an official statement from the company, having received the mandatory security clearances from the Government, IndiaOne's services will be immediately available through almost all mobile as well as subscribers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) apart from other private fixed-line operators. The company had signed an interconnect agreement with BSNL for routing all international calls earlier this week.

Bharti also hopes to sign its interconnect agreement with Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) soon and offer its services to MTNL subscribers in Delhi and Mumbai soon.

The statement further notes that IndiaOne has entered into bilateral agreements with leading international carriers, accounting for over 90 per cent of the traffic coming into India. They will carry traffic to and from all parts of the world.

IndiaOne, on its part, would carry voice traffic through Network i2i, the world's largest submarine cable network, a joint venture between Bharti and SingTel.

According to Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group Managing Director, Bharti, the commercial launch of IndiaOne's ILD services would "change the way India communicates with the world."

As per the tariff plan offered by Bharti, peak-time call charges to the SAARC region will cost 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 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.

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