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May 17, 2002 | 1201 IST
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Basic operators climb down on limited mobility tariff issue

Thomas K Thomas

In a significant climb down, private basic operators have decided to drop their demand of including airtime in wireless in local loop limited mobility tariffs after differences among themselves over the issue.

In a meeting with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Tuesday, all basic operators had unanimously demanded lowering of rentals and allowing flexibility in tariffs for WLL limited mobility services.

Earlier, basic operators had urged that the disparity between cellular and WLL limited mobility services should be removed by allowing them to charge airtime and removing the lower limit of Rs 450 for monthly rentals. They had also sought flexible tariffs along with the freedom to offer customer packages.

Industry sources said while smaller operators, like Shyam Telecom, were in favour of imposing an airtime charge, big operators, like Reliance and Tata, were against charging airtime for WLL services.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority met all basic operators independently during the past one week as part of its tariff reviewing exercise for WLL limited mobility.

The regulator said it had set a lower limit for monthly rentals in order to prevent incumbent operators from offering predatory prices. It also said WLL service operators would not be allowed any flexibility in tariffs so that a difference could be maintained between cellular and WLL mobility services.

The regulator had, however, said since costs were coming down it would consider a review of WLL tariffs, if required. A decision on the issue is expected by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, cellular operators are opposing any revision in tariffs for WLL mobility services. They point out that allowing basic operators to offer flexibility in tariff packages is against the regulator's earlier order.

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