Free Press Journal

Trai sends notice to Airtel, Voda, Idea in ISD card case


New Delhi: Telecom regulator Trai is believed to have issued show-cause notices to Airtel, Vodafone and Idea for not signing agreements with companies interested in providing international calling card services directly to consumers that could reduce ISD rates by up to 80 per cent.

“Show-cause notice (in the matter) has been issued to Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular on Tuesday,” an official source told PTI. There was no immediate reply to queries sent to Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular on the matter. Trai issued a regulation in August 2014 on international calling card service that has potential to reduce ISD call rates by up to 80 per cent if International Long Distance (ILD) operators who facilitate ISD service are allowed to directly offer their service to consumers.

As companies having only ILD service licence don’t have direct access to customers, they are required to go through telecom service providers, mainly mobile operators. Access service providers are companies like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, BSNL, MNTL, Reliance Communication whose services are directly available for customers.

A user of a calling card is required to dial a certain prefix code on his/her phone to make calls using network ILD operators. Trai issued notice to three companies following complaints made by ILD companies that these operators are not signing agreements, thereby violating regulation.

The regulation was issued after Trai observed that in many cases ILD operator gets only 10 per cent share, out of total ISD rate paid by consumers, and 90 per cent is kept by access services. Trai fixed charges that ILD operators should pay to main telecom operators at 40 paisa per minute for wireless services and Rs 1.20 per minute for wireline services from each ISD call under this regulation.

Access service provider or main mobile operators are required to sign agreement within 30 days of receiving request from an ILD operator interested in providing services through ‘Calling Card’. Trai regulation bars access service providers from denying their consumers the ILD voice services offered through calling card either directly or indirectly.