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Basic operators press for unified licensing

BS Economy Bureau in New Delhi | September 03, 2003 09:04 IST

In an attempt to push through the unified licensing regime, the Association of Basic Telecom Operators on Tuesday offered a compromise formula, including allowing cellular firms to offer long-distance services and reimbursing the licence fees paid by national and international long-distance operators as an exit option.

In its written response to the consultation paper issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the ABTO said: "We believe that unified licensing will have a catalytic effect on the growth of teledensity in the country and a net incremental effect on the gross domestic product. It will also eliminate uncertainty and duplication of infrastructure."

However, the basic operators' proposal is unlikely to succeed as the cellular operators have already opposed the Trai-sponsored consultation process.

The Cellular Operators Association of India had yesterday said the telecom regulator was merely paying lip service and acting in the interest of basic operators.

Pressing for a unified licence, the ABTO has urged the regulator to include basic, cellular, long-distance and Internet services within the scope of the new regime.

Trai had earlier suggested merger of only cellular and basic service licences.

The basic operators have also said additional spectrum should be allocated through bidding or auction instead of allocating it on the basis of the subscriber base.

They have suggested that the numbering plan be changed from short distance charging area to long-distance charging area, which will mean the number of STD codes will come down from 2,600 to 350.

The ABTO has suggested a uniform licence fee of 6-8 per cent irrespective of the circle of operation, uniform rollout obligations and equitable entry fees for migrating into the new regime.

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