State-owned BSNL has reduced call rates to Nepal by about 35 percent as the Prime Minister’s
Office had raised the issue of high call charges to the neighbouring country with the Department of Telecom (DoT). BSNL has launched a special tariff voucher (STV) of Rs. 18 which allows people to call Nepal at Rs. 6.50 per minute against a normal rate of Rs. 10 per minute.
Private players including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone charge Rs. 12 a minute for calls to Nepal. DoT held a meeting with telecom players recently to discuss the matter wherein operators complained that Nepal charges very high termination rates for their calls which result in high rates.
BSNL said with Rs. 6.50 call, the company is making a profit of just Rs. 0.50 on each call as the rest goes into paying taxes, termination charges, spectrum fees and so on. The issue was raised after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal in August wherein people complained about high call rates to the Himalayan nation from India. The PMO then wrote a letter to DoT to discuss the issue with telecom operators. The DoT has already held a meeting with telcos. Another meeting is scheduled to take place in a few weeks.
Industry body COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said some kind of regulatory intervention is required to address the issue as Nepal is charging very high termination charges whereas the Indian operators are charging just about Rs. 0.40. Other SAARC countries are also charging high termination rates for calls landing on their networks.
“We had a meeting in DoT recently on PMO’s letter regarding the call rates to Nepal and after that we have launched this STV which is effective since October 15,” BSNL Director (consumer mobility) Anupam Shrivastava said. He added that the company plans to launch such STVs for other SAARC countries also in near future.