Telephone calls may turn a bit cheaper, with the industry regulator on Monday announcing a cut in a key expense item for network operators.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has reduced the termination charges for domestic calls to 20 paise per minute from 30 paise per minute. For international calls, termination charges have, however, been increased to 40 paise per minute from 30 paise.
An operator in whose network a call originates pays termination charges to another operator in whose network the call terminates. For example, if an Airtel subscriber calls a Vodafone subscriber, then Bharti Airtel pays termination charges to Vodafone.
If operators pass on the termination charges to the consumers, then domestic call rates would fall by 10 paise per minute, or about 10 per cent, as average charges are currently around one rupee per minute.
"We have tried to reconcile the conflicting interest and extreme positions of the stakeholders in the larger interest of the consumers, quality of services and infrastructure,” said TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra.
The increase in international termination charges to 40 paise from 30 paise may also result in reduced charges for international calls as domestic operators will get more by way of charges from incoming calls which could be passed on to domestic customers.
However, charges for someone calling from abroad may rise by 10 paise per minute.
The Cellular operators association of India (COAI) has opposed the new rates, saying the regulator has not taken all the costs into consideration while deciding on new termination charges.
The last review of the charges took place in 2006.