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May 20, 2002 | 1145 IST
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BSNL to implement carrier access code for NLD soon

BS Economy Bureau

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has said it will implement the carrier-access code across all its exchanges for national long-distance calls within the next few days. This will enable customers to choose their NLD operator.

Prithipal Singh, chairman and managing director of BSNL, said: "We will put in place the carrier-access code within next week. Initially, the code will be implemented only for STD calls." Lack of a carrier-access code has been holding up the roll-out of private NLD operators like Bharti.

Singh said in order to implement the carrier-access code for international long-distance calls, it would take some more time to upgrade BSNL's exchanges.

"For implementing the carrier-access code in ILD, we should have the capacity to take numbers with more than 15 digits. This will take some time," he pointed out.

On the issue of interconnection with Bharti, Singh said an agreement with Bharti, for both ILD and STD, was on the cards as the final details of the commercial terms and conditions were being verified. At present, Bharti does not have access to BSNL's 35 million fixed-line subscribers.

The interconnect agreement and carrier access code is expected to give a boost to Bharti's STD business, breaking the monopoly of BSNL in real terms.

A BSNL customer will be able to route his STD calls through Bharti's NLD network by just prefixing 55 before dialing the STD code and the number, or he can chose to remain with BSNL by prefixing 50.

When asked as to how ILD calls would be routed in the absence of the code, Singh said Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd would continue to be the preferred provider, while some traffic would be routed through Bharti and Data Access.

"VSNL has approached us with their tariffs. There is no reason for us to believe that their tariffs will not be competitive," Singh said, referring to the Cabinet ruling directing BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd to route their ILD calls through VSNL as long as it offered the lowest price in the market.

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