Choice of long distance carrier put on hold

New Delhi, March 21 | Updated: Mar 22 2006, 05:30am hrs
Subscribers will have to wait longer before they can pick and choose their long distance carrier. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which was slated to unveil its recommendations on carrier access code (CAC), has now decided to initiate fresh consultations.

CAC enables consumers to select ISD/STD operator of choice
It will unleash competition and may also result in lower tariff
At present, there are only four long-distance companies
According to official sources, Trai plans to include the new long distance (both national and international) players who have applied for licences in the discussions. It also plans to observe the market once all the players start operations.

At present, long distance operations are provided by only four operators: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (only NLD), Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (only ILD), Bharti Tele-Ventures (NLD & ILD), and Reliance Infocomm (NLD & ILD).

Several other operators are, however, awaiting a licence from the government. For NLD, 13 companies have applied including Hutchison-Essar Ltd, Spice Communications and Dishnet Wireless Ltd. Similarly, five companies have applied for ILD licence including Sify Communications, Spice Communications and Shipping stop Dot Com.

It would be only fair to involve the new operators in the consultation process and also watch the market for some time, officials said. Trai chairman Pradip Baijal had told FE last month the regulator would move fast and submit its recommendations on CAC to the government.

CAC has been on hold for than two years now. Explaining the delay, Mr Baijal had said initially the government had asked it to wait for a year. The operators too were not keen since it involved an investment Rs 1,000-1,500 crore in network upgrade.