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Economy Jan 24, 2013

Consumers should be offered lowest mobile call rates: Sibal

New Delhi: A day after mobile charges were hiked by leading operators, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal today said consumers should be offered the lowest call rates.

"We want consumers to be offered calls at lowest rates," Sibal told PTI.

Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile phone operator, and Idea Cellular have raised call charges mostly by way of a reduction in free minutes or air-time available on most plans. Others like Vodafone are likely to follow suit soon. Another mobile services provider Uninor, however, said it has no plans as of now to increase call rates.

AFP

AFP

"As a young operator focused on the mass market through basic services on a pre-paid only platform, Uninor has made a commitment to remaining 'Sabse Sasta' for its customers. This has been our position so far and will continue to be so in all the circles we operate in," Uninor said in a statement.

Meanwhile, government sources said the Centre is likely to approach sectoral regulator Trai regarding yesterday's hike in call rates. "We will nudge Trai to do something," a source said.

Meanwhile, Trai Chairman Rahul Khullar said, "Forbearance does not mean that we have closed our eyes.
Forbearance reposes faith on operators and we realise there is competition in the market."

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had decided to continue with forbearance in tariff regime that gives freedom to decide on call and other services rates. Indian mobile phone industry, known for the lowest telecom services rates, is witnessing a hike in call rates now.

The hike in call charges come as companies face thousands of crore in one-time surcharge on airwaves they hold beyond a threshhold.

PTI


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