Windfall For Cell Users With Incoming Calls Set To Go Free

New Delhi, January 21: | Updated: Jan 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
After umpteen promises, the private cellular operators have finally announced free cellular to cellular (both pre-paid and post-paid) incoming calls across different operators.

However, the government operators, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), are still out of the club and the incoming calls originating from their cellular networks will be charged. When contacted by FE, a highly-placed BSNL official refused to comment and MTNL officials could not be contacted for comment.

According to a joint media release issued by the private cellular companies, the announcement to offer free incoming calls is being made after the industrys request for a non-discriminatory and cost-based interconnection was received by the Union government, and based on the assurance of a fair and just regime. This means that cellular companies are expecting that they will be given cost-based access charges by the basic and limited mobility players.

Meanwhile, the basic (including limited mobility) operators have approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) against the demands of cellular operators about access (interconnect) charges and contended that cellular subscribers should not be given any access charge.

In a letter written to Trai on Tuesday, Association of Basic Telecom Operators (ABTO) has said, "If the cellular operators are allowed to receive access charges, it would be a back door entry to calling party pays (CPP) regime as the increased cost burden by basic operators will be passed on to the consumers."