The Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), after the Supreme Court rejected Airtel’s petition against new floor rates for all calls of Rs 1 to 2 per minute, said it is gearing to implement a similar scheme for the broadband facility which will see Internet rates decline.
“The TRC is considering reducing the broadband charges by implementing a maximum floor rate by December,” Anusha Pelpita, Director-General TRC told the Business Times. He said that the future of telecommunication is data access and broadband rate reduction will facilitate this by making Internet access more affordable.
Airtel sought an injuction against TRC saying the floor price is against the interest of the consumer. But TRC says this was done to protect the industry and stop the profit erosion at telcom companies. Telecom experts say TRC is not in the business of safeguarding telcom firms’ profits. “We have to allow the market to decide. Markets need to decide and competition allowed to happen.
Markets should not be arbitrarily constrained,” Rohan Samarajeeva, a former TRC Director-General, told the Business Times.
He said with the floor rate slapped on SIMs purchased after July 15 when the rates became effective, the move would create a black market for SIMs purchased before this date.
“Old SIMs and old packages will be more valuable than the new ones. The old ones will be having a better re-sale value in a grey market,” he said, adding that it was baffling that the rates didn’t apply to old SIMS.
In response, Mr. Pelpita said that of the more than 10 million pre-paid customers of mobile phones less than two million are post-paid and there are only three tariff plans which are below the floor rate such as Mobitel’s Upahara. “With regard to these, the TRC will discuss with the industry and decide on what needs to be done,” he said.