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Steps listed for checking illegal routing of ISD calls

Thomas K Thomas in New Delhi | July 09, 2003 11:54 IST

The committee set up by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for tackling the grey market in the international long distance telephony segment has set out a five-point agenda to check illegal routing of calls.

The proposals, yet to be finalised by the committee headed by the Trai secretary, Harshvardhan Singh, includes reduction in access deficit charges to basic operators, stringent monitoring of calls at all levels and exchange of traffic data between Trai and other telecom regulators like OFTEL in UK and FCC in the US.

Grey market accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the 7-billion-minutes-a- year ILD market. This results in huge revenue losses to VSNL and other ILD operators like Bharti Telesonic and Data Access.

Industry sources said the committee was reviewing the impact of higher access deficit charges on the ISD tariffs.

"The huge difference in the tariffs being offered by grey market operators and ILD operators is due to the deficit charges. While ILD operators have to pay the access deficit charges to basic operators,  grey market operators do not which enables them to offer ISD calls at local call charges."

Basic operators have however strongly opposed any move to reduce the deficit charges. In a meeting held on 27 June, the Association of Basic Telecom Operators said the committee must not interfere in the matter since Trai was already reviewing the entire interconnect usage norms and the issue of ADC was part of that review.

The other proposals include monitoring of all ISD calls by cellular, basic and long distance operators.

"A large number of ISPs are also offering Internet based ISD calls. Even this has to be monitored if grey market operations have to be curtailed," said sources.

The committee has also suggested sharing ISD traffic data with other regulators which will enable Trai to keep track of the exact quantum of traffic coming into India. This would enable the regulator to better monitor the flow of illegal calls.

The committee is slated to meet again on July 9 wherein international carriers like AT&T have been asked to make presentation on the issue.

Sources said that once the report is finalised it will be placed before the Trai for approval.

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