Our Bureau

New Delhi, Oct 15

With over 10 new companies planning a foray into the long-distance telephony segment, the Department of Telecom (DoT) is planning to conduct billing and equipment audits on a regular basis to avoid undercutting and misuse of the licence.

The move comes in the wake of the Data Access case, where the company came into the market with low tariffs and ended up with huge debts and finally lost its licence.

According to DoT officials, while the Government is hoping that the long-distance tariffs would fall further, it is wary of a situation wherein operators start offering tariffs that are below cost to attract subscribers.

The DoT also wants to check licence violations if any operator decides to start selling bandwidth at wholesale rates to access providers instead of offering to carry traffic in terms of number of minutes.

The officials said that conducting audits on billing and other equipment in the network could be one way of knowing whether a company is flouting any norms.

A number of companies, including AT&T, British Telecom, Idea Cellular, Essar-Hutch, Sify, Dishnet Wireless and Spice, have applied for long-distance licences.

AT&T has already obtained one and is firming up plans to make a foray.

Some of the smaller companies that applied for a licence have also sought to revive Carrier Access Codes (CAC) that would enable consumers to choose the long-distance operator.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 16, 2006)
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