Access Issues On Agenda At Trais IN Panel Meet

New Delhi: | Updated: Jul 31 2003, 05:30am hrs
The intelligent network (IN) committee formed by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will be meeting on Thursday with its stakeholders. The committee is studying various issues regarding the provision of IN-based services like virtual calling cards.

The members of the committee include all basic service operators (BSOs), cellular mobile service operators (CMSOs), national and international long distance (ILD) service providers.

One of the issues to be discussed by the committee stems from the fact that ILD operators would like to provide calling card facilities to the customers, say sources.

However, to be able to do the same, they need to have direct access to the customers, which they dont have. The access providers (that include BSOs and CMSOs) feel that it would be unfair on the part of long distance operators to bypass the access service providers and in order to reach the customers.

On this issue, while long distance service providers would like to open another revenue stream by selling calling cards, access service providers wouldnt like share the access market with long distance operators.

Another issue that the committee is pondering is whether different access service providers should be allowed to offer IN-based services on each others network. Currently, virtual calling cards sold by private operators can only be used on their own networks.

From a subsribers perspective, this means that calling cards of MTNL/BSNL cannot be used to make long distance calls from Bhartis Touchtel phones or vice-versa. Here, private basic operators would like to access BSNLs network so that their calling cards can be used on larger number of phones.

Technically too, the IN platforms of various operators are not inter-operable. That is, the INs used by various operators do not talk to each other. The players need to put in more investments in order to ensure interoperability.

In allowing the use of calling cards across networks of access service providers, theres another issue that needs to be solved. Since the access providers have operating licences from the government based on geographies, while a few operators have licences for a few circles, there are others with licences for a larger number of circles.

As a result, if networks were to be interoperable, a subscriber with a calling card from a single circle player will be able to use that card not only on the competitors network in that particular circle but also in other circles where the smaller operator does not have an operating licence.