Selection of the carrier by the subscriber can be done on a call-by-call basis by dialing a four-digit carrier access code (CAC), which will be preceded by a zero for national calls and by a double zero for international calls. Another option for the subscriber is to pre-select a carrier, obviating the need to dial CAC each time a long distance call is made.
The authority is of the view that barring areas which will be only exceptions, in almost all circles and in most parts of the country, the facility will be available to the subscriber latest by the end of calendar 2003, that is, in about 18 months from now, the TRAI said.
There are different time-lines for the two kinds of access providers cellular and basic. In the case of national long distance calls, both the cellular and basic telephony access providers have to provide call-by-call carrier selection within 3 months, in areas where points of presence (PoP) have been established by the new National Long Distance Operators (NLDOs). Basic telephony operators have to offer carrier pre-selection in 6 months while cellular operators have been granted 9 months to do it.
Both the access providers also have to offer the option of routing long distance traffic to a recorded announcement seeking carrier selection, if the subscriber fails to opt for carrier pre-selection or call-by-call routing, within 6-9 months.
For international calls, the cellular service providers have to provide call-by-call as well as carrier pre-selection facility within 6 months while basic telephony operators have been given an 18 month time-limit. The same time-lines are applicable for the routing to a recorded announcement.
Until carrier selection is implemented fully, the access providers will have the option of routing the default long distance traffic to the carrier they choose, TRAI said.
The biggest issue in providing carrier selection services is the cost. TRAI has favoured mutual negotiations for determining the cost that the long distance carriers should pay to the access providers for enabling carrier selection.
If the operators concerned fail to reach an agreement within 30 days, they should approach the authority for determination on the issue, the TRAI said committing to finalise such a determination within 45 days of receiving the reference, which would have to made by at least one of the operators involved.