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Trai nets BSNL more urban users
Thomas K Thomas in New Delhi | February 24, 2003 14:18 IST
A new tariff order passed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will result in the shift of 8 million Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd subscribers from the 'rural' to the 'urban' category.
At present, BSNL extends prescribed rural tariff to subscribers living in areas declared 'rural' in Census 2001.
However, the new Trai order says 'rural' subscribers are those who reside in rural short distance charging area as specified in the licences issued to basic operators.
The new definition specifies only 487 SDCAs as 'rural' and the rest as 'urban' or 'semi-urban'.
So, these people will now have to pay rentals at the rate prescribed for urban residential subscribers.
This means that they will have to now pay more, as Trai had hiked rentals of urban SDCAs by up to 33 per cent, but left rural rentals untouched at Rs 80 a month.
Though this devilment may boost BSNL's revenues somewhat, its financial woes continue.
The average monthly revenue per subscriber for BSNL has dipped by 27 per over the last three years. In 1998-99, the average revenue per user was Rs 778 per month, now the figure is Rs 563.
Similarly, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd has seen its average monthly revenue per subscriber fall 21 per cent from Rs 1,126 in 1998-99 to Rs 880 now.
Both PSUs say reduction in STD and ISD charges are to blame for the fall in tariffs.
BSNL officials also say Trai's move of imposing interconnect usage charges on basic services will make STD calls on cellular phones comparatively cheaper and result in the migration of long distance calls to the cellular network thus making basic services totally unviable.
According to BSNL officials, the PSU is taking a number of steps to arrest the fall in revenues.These include improving sales and marketing, launching new products and services, introducing usage discounts, encouraging use of Internet-based transactions, paying special attention to high-end users, improving network service quality and launching value-added services.