The new telecom policy draft has paved the way for stoking competition and allowing customers to select their long distance operators by calling for introduction of carrier access code immediately.
Under carrier access code, users can select an operator who offers the most competitive call rates by dialing a specific code to be issued by DoT, followed by the STD/ISD code and the telephone number.
Today in the absence of CAC, the competition in the long distance telephony is very limited. According to the NTP 2005 draft, CAC should be put in place immediately to enable customers to select a long distance operator of their choice - a move that will bring about more competition in the segment.
At present, customers do not have the choice of selecting an ILD/NLD service provider, though there are four such players - Reliance, VSNL, Bharti and BSNL. Once CAC is allowed, long distance operators would be allowed to charge lower rates for carrying calls.
Today, a minute's carriage charges are fixed between 20 paise and Rs 1.10 for different distances even though leased line rates have fallen by over 70 per cent over the past few months.
CAC has already been recommended by telecom regulator TRAI three years ago and it recently asked all service providers to furnish the current status on readiness to implement carrier access code.
The introduction of CAC is more urgent today as department of telecom wants more players to come into the long distance segment and it has recently reduced entry fee and licence fee to Rs 2.5 crore (Rs 25 million) and 6 per cent respectively.