Many of the millions of expatriate workers living in the Gulf are separated from their families. They need to keep in touch. They need to talk. But the cheapest way of the talking has been blocked so far in Dubai. But things change.
The decline of telecoms tariff has been a universal trend. State-owned BTCL has, however, decided to double the monthly line rent and increase the call charges across the board. And they did it without giving a damn to the regulator. The usually rowdy BTRC is unusually calm about BTCL’s blatant noncompliance: The (BTRC) officials said they overlook the flouting of the law by the BTCL as the high-ups of the telecom ministry are involved with the latter’s policy making. The industry is unimpressed: According to the telecom act, PSTN operators have to take prior approval of BTRC for any kind of tariff and charges.
We were dragged into work on roaming by the SATRC. Our focus was on intra-SAARC call charges, but the then Chairman of SATRC, Mr Nripendra Mishra of TRAI wanted to act on both. So we started. We were more interested in intra-SAARC call charges because it affects more people, and more at the BOP. But looking at roaming prices, one cannot but be outraged.
We were not optimistic about the telecom regulators actually doing something about lowering intra-SAARC phone prices more than one year after the SAARC heads of state said it should be done. The regulators show their independence when it comes to matters such as this. But the prices came down for LK-IN calls without any regulatory intervention. We continue to live in hope. South Asian telecommunications regulators have decided to ask phone companies in the region to reduce international call charges, an official said.