World biz and more as seen from India

Thursday, August 04, 2005

sOid Speak: Unity in diversity?

Yes! sOid Speak is back!!!
No! This is not a heart warming post on the feeling of 'one-ness' in the country.
"According to the announcement made by Communication and Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran, the government is working towards OneIndia, a scheme aimed at bringing in uniform telecom tariff."
Thats an interesting newsbit I found on the BSNL knowledge portal.
My last post on telecom spoke about how number portability in the telecom industry meant more than just a technological extravaganza - more towards service marketing and customer retention and customer delight. This news also delves into the same areas - customer delight...
What can play more music into the consumer's ears than getting to know that his daily lovey dovey calls to his/her dear ones far off will be fre from the hassles of getting a calling card, or having an STD line, or typing any magical long numbers before you actually get to share those special moments.
Single Call Rate or OneIndia plan is a policy where calls made to any destination within the country will be treated as calls made within a state. Ya hold your breath - there is more... Under this plan, there will be no diverse call rates, whether you dial a local number or a long distance one. There will be only one call rate.
One India, one country, one rate.....unity in diversity perhaps? Redefined???
Well what this also means is that in case the same applies to the mobile subscriber base in the country as well, the Indian cell user will no longer need to pay roaming rates. "Roam like home..." like one of the service providers once promoted its services, will actually mean much more and cost much less if the One India plan is to be implemented.
So now what's the con side of it?
The implications and views of the views submitted by the industry need to be understood clearly, in addition to reworking on the present licensing and ADC (access deficit charges) regimes before implementing the policy.
"Besides, operators will have to rework their interconnection agreements, before the country can move towards uniform rates. This would require a truly unified licence, treating the entire country as a single market. In addition, the local call rates in rural areas needs to be revised" so reads the article further...
Once the One India initiative is implemented, there would be no difference between your local call to the nearest grocer, and an STD call to your call to an important customer in another city. The big question is whether you are willing to pay as much for a short distance call, as you will have to shell out for a longer one?
The rules just get reversed - customers will now face comparatively costlier local calls since an STD costs the same! Does this mean that users will cut on their local calls, because they now PERCEIVE them to be costlier, even if they were to pay perhaps the same rates?
Customer perception will once again play an important role in this initiative - the authorities have to take care not strike an axe on the local call market, and at the same time make an STD cheaper and viable! To me it sounds like asking me to shorten a piece of string so that it looks shorter, yet remains the same length! A knot in the middle perhaps? But is it as easy as that? Mr. Maran and co. please reply!
I`ll like to leave with another interesting question that comes to my mind - how will the calling card industry take this news, considering that the entire calling card market will become defunct and useless, once One India happens...