Business Times

Extra 50 cents cost per call for Telcos

By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

Sri Lanka’s Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRC) this week wrapped up an issue that has been discussed for more than three years when it ordered all nine telecom companies to fork out 50 cents each when originating a call to another network – a process called the interconnect charge, but the additional cost is unlikely to be passed to millions of subscribers.

Earlier there was no charge to an operator putting through a call to another network, an issue that was first raised by Dialog as it fielded much more calls than the others and bore the brunt of the cost.
Anusha Pelpita, Director General TRC told the Business Times that the TRC on Wednesday approved the interconnect rate of 50 cents to be implemented by June 1. “The TRC also approved a 15 cents charge for Short Message Services (SMS),” he said.

This new rate will be slapped on five mobile operators - Dialog, Mobitel, Airtel, Hutch and Etisalat and also four fixed line firms – Sri Lanka Telecom, Suntel, Lanka Bell and Dialog Broadband. Interconnection is specified to ensure fair compensation for the use of the receiving party network infrastructure by the network originating the call. The rate applies in both directions and hence represents parity and fair bilateral compensation.

Nushad Perera,Chief Marketing Officer of Dialog Telekom said the additional cost would not be passed to the consumer and believed the other networks would also do the same. Industry sources said the companies had a discussion on Wednesday as to whether to pass this to the customers but couldn’t make a decision.

“It is unlikely that we will pass this charge to our customers,” Prasad Samarasinghe, CEO Lanka Bell told the Business Times. Suren Amarasekara, CEO Mobitel said they are still studying the issue.

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