KARACHI: High calling rates coupled with undue Access Promotion Charge (APC) caused instability in the International Clearing House (ICH) club that was established to curb grey traffic, having prospects of earning $37 million revenue, Daily Times has learnt.
Given that Telenor exit from the ICH the guild is likely to dissolve within a few weeks as negotiations between regulator and Telenor stood at non-conclusion point, sources said. Telenor Long Distance International (LDI) Communications (Pvt.) Ltd (TLC), a subsidiary of Telenor Pakistan, recently made its exit from the International Clearing House (ICH) due to heavy losses to Telenor as an enterprise.
The idea of making cartelization to increase revenues has failed to serve it purpose, as the other operators are also not interested to keep this alliance upon same grounds that pushed Telenor to leave state designed cartel, added sources. Ongoing drive against grey traffickers can only be achieved if the ICH persists, said the sources. To keep ICH in working, regulator should minimise calling rates and APC should be zero, they suggested.
Other than one, remaining 13 operators in ICH are taking their share without doing anything as the one semi-state owned operator enjoying half share for handling all international traffic that was mandated to him through this ICH cartel, added the sources. Sources were of the view that exclusive calling tariffs with cartelization can never give desired results to the regime if they do not provide competitive environment to all Long Distance International (LDI) operators that will also be in favor of public.
“To manage calling rates, regulator can follow international trends but cartelization should be finished for taking sheer benefits of competitive business atmosphere”, said sources. The ICH is the single termination exchange for all international, incoming voice calls, which are being routed through Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited’s (PTCL) infrastructure to the LDI operatoRs
Depressing impact of ICH could be ascertained by PTA’s latest data as when ICH was active international incoming traffic declined by 26 percent in FY13 to 12 billion minutes while it was 16.2 billion minutes in FY12 when there was no ICH. “Cellular operators that are included in ICH have own subscribers’ base of millions, so they don’t need to become a part of any such cartel as cellular operators can generate huge revenues by managing their international calling traffic themselves”, sources added.
“Smuggling in any sector only flourishes when legal things get to beyond the reach, therefore to discourage grey traffickers lawful tariffs are needed to be rationalize so that callers can opt right way”, they added. Sources were of the view that making of such cartelisation with sky rocketing tariffs is akin to give chance to smugglers or grey traffickers to deprive national kitty by huge revenues adding that government should not paving the way for illegal exchanges by limiting legal IPs.
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