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TRAI nod not needed to fix basic services tariffs

Our Bureau

New Delhi Nov. 5

THE Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a notification, making it free for basic telecom operators to fix the tariffs (except for rural subscribers) without seeking prior approval from it.

So far, while cellular and limited mobility (WLL) services were being charged at the market-determined rates, the tariffs for basic landline services had to get prior approval from the TRAI before being offered to the subscribers.

In the 28th Amendment to the Telecommunication Tariff Order (TTO) 1999, the authority has decided to forbear with respect to the tariffs for basic services in urban areas and bring them on par with the cellular and limited mobility services.

According to an official statement, except for the rural subscribers the standard tariff package specified for rural subscribers in Schedule I of TTO (24th Amendment), 2003 dated January 24, 2003 will continue to be applicable.

In the case of basic services, TTO 1999 had specified availability of standard tariff package which inter alia comprises rental, call charges, free calls, etc., along with all other tariff plans on offer by the service providers in the market.

"There has been intense competition for basic services, both from other basic service providers as well as from cellular mobile service providers, which has resulted in drastic fall in tariffs, especially for long distance calls," the statement said.

"The available information shows that virtually all subscribers are on alternative tariff packages, and in effect the standard tariff package has become redundant.

"Thus, the authority has decided that specification of standard tariff package for basic service subscribers in general is no longer necessary. The authority is retaining the standard tariff package for rural fixed line subscribers, for whom access tariffs and call charges are lower than in general, for social reasons."

The tariff forbearance as provided in this Amendment to TTO 1999 would be subject to the authority intervening in tariffs which it deems inappropriate for any regulatory reason.

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