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'WLL usage will cost more'
January 29, 2003 17:34 IST
The wireless in local loop services will cost more as a result of the latest order by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to enhance the rates of basic telephones from April one.
The TRAI order last week, will push up the cost of operation for basic service operators and will be reflected in the tariff structure of the WLL. The affordable mobile or WLL will no longer come cheap, Tata Teleservices Limited managing director, S Ramakrishnan said in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The level of increase of the WLL call rates have yet to be worked out, Ramakrishnan added.''Give us a fortnight and we will bring out the exact increase. The ability to offer affordable service will become difficult,'' Ramakrishnan said.
TTSL has recently launched WLL code division multiple access services. The Tata group also offers basic services in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Ramakrishnan, who was elected as president of the Association of Basic Telecom Operators on Wednesday, said the TRAI move has put pressure on fixed line players and ignored to take note of the roll out obligations by the cellular players, restricting them to WLL service being offered by fixed line users.
''If, for whatever reasons, WLL is treated other than basic servic, then the obligations of rollout and universal service that come as part of the basic service licenses should also not be applicable to the WLL services. Alternatively, the same should be imposed on the cellular industry. The regulator has ignored to take note of the rollout obligations while working out the recent order,'' Ramakrishnan said.
Basic operators said the interconnection usage charges regime will result in pushing up costs for the end customer.''This works against the original intent of the government to increase rapidly the teledensity and affordability of telephones through WLL across different sections of the society,'' Prakash C Bajpai, president, Reliance Infocomm Ltd, vice president elect of ABTO said. Reliance also launched WLL CDMA services in the country recently and is poised to expand its network.
Several level-playing field issues still remain unresolved for basic operators, which include high upfront payments in license fee including bank guarantees, stringent rollout obligations, strict rationing of spectrum for WLL on a first come first serve basis, obligation to provide below cost services.
ABTO also said that no remedy is in sight for the continuing bypass of intra-circle long distance traffic by cellular operators, resulting in huge losses to the basic operator.
Ramakrishnan said the spectrum at 2.5 MHz available with the basic services is also very less.''While teledensity targets may not be affected in the long run because of the burgeoning market in the country the affordability of basic services will certainly be questioned,'' Ramakrishnan said.