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Domestic Long Distance Telecommunications

While the policy of opening up domestic long distance telecom services deserves to be lauded without reservation, some of the specifics of the policy continue to betray a monopolistic mindset on the part of the department of telecommunications (DoT). This will surely require another bail-out and correction exercise like the migration of private telephone companies from a licence fee regime to revenue sharing.

The prime minister has fulfilled the promise he made on July 15 that by August 15, entry conditions for private telephone companies (P-Telcos) to provide domestic long distance (DLD) services, i e, STD services, would be announced. He deserves congratulations for keeping up the timetable. While the policy of opening up can be lauded without reservation, some of the contents of this policy still betray a Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) mindset on the part of the department of telecommunications (DoT) which obviously might have prevailed upon the prime minister to distort in detail what was clear in the intent announced.

The licensor DoT prescribed 10 per cent revenue share for government. When no revenue share is prescribed for private companies producing electrical energy or private airlines providing passenger services or the private document couriers competing with the department of posts, why is the ministry/DoT wanting to impose this burden on telecom users (though indirectly through the P-Telcos) while the sister ministry of information technology is wanting to reduce all burdens by waiver of custom duty, income tax, etc, to promote information technology? Is the ministry of communications/department of telecommunications wanting to promote telecommunications or does it want to depress the demand by imposing extraneous expenses? In whose interest is DoT acting?

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