SAARC Archives — Page 2 of 2

In August 2008, LIRNEasia made a big push to eliminate the anomaly of intra-SAARC calls that were more expensive than calls to Singapore, UK, USA and other liberalized markets.  This bore fruit in the form of para 6 of the SAARC Summit Declaration: The Heads of State or Government observed that an effective and economical regional tele-communication regime is an essential factor of connectivity, encouraging the growth of people-centric partnerships. They stressed the need for the Member States to endeavour to move towards a uniformly applicable low tariff, for international direct dial calls within the region. While the regulators are cogitating. it appears that the operators are acting.
Sri Lankan fixed access provider Lanka Bell said it would pay subscribers for incoming overseas calls at the rate of 50 cents for every minute, regardless of duration, country of origin or the number of calls received. The company, in a statement, described the offer as passing on of the benefits of its three billion rupee investment to connect Sri Lanka to the FLAG undersea fibre optic cable network owned by India’s Reliance group. Full story here. This should make it easier for the Sri Lanka regulator to bring down termination charges for calls from within the SAARC, and implement the SAARC Colombo Declaration.
The op-ed piece written up on the basis of one of the LIRNEasia benchmark studies, has been published in the leading Bangladesh newspaper, Daily Star. The data and recommendations thus have been published, in various forms, in the special issue of Himal Southasian, in The Dawn, as a Choices column on LBO, and also flashed by AFP. As a result of the latter, it has got play in a number of publications, including in a Vietnam publication, the Mirror online (Sri Lanka), etc. has also started a discussion.
A recent LIRNEasia media outreach effort timed to coincide with the upcoming SAARC Summit in Colombo has been picked up by AFP. Leaving aside the question of the operators in the SAARC countries collectively lowering their termination rates to make possible more reasonable intra-SAARC call charges, the data also show that Pakistan has the overall lowest international telecom prices and Nepal has the highest. Hopefully, some of these prices will come down, now that the comparisons have been made! South Asian leaders urged to slash telco tariffs – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE Calls were cheapest in Pakistan, where fixed and mobile phone users pay three US cents a minute to call many non-SAARC destinations, including the United States and Hong Kong. But users pay 12 US cents to call Bangladesh and India.