TRAI lowers charges for submarine cable landing stations

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TRAI lowers charges for submarine cable landing stations
Telecom regulator TRAI on Friday lowered the access facilitation charges (AFC) for submarine cable landing stations to reduce communication cost for BPOs and small enterprises.

Operators will now pay Rs. 36,000 per annum for low capacity STM-1 and Rs. 6.25 lakh for high capacity STM-64 per unit capacity at the cable landing station, TRAI said in 'International Telecommunication Cable Landing Stations Access Facilitation Charges and Co-Location Charges Regulations, 2012'.

"These charges are substantially lower than the prevailing charges and are likely to result in reduction in the price of International Private Leased Circuits for BPOs/ Call Centers, small and medium enterprises and other information technology enabled service providers," TRAI said in the regulation.

The new regulations will be effective from January 1, 2013, the TRAI statement said. It, however, did not provide the prevailing rates.

The charges for alternate location ranges between Rs. 1.11 lakh to Rs. 19.50 lakh, it added.

Access facilitation charges (AFC) are payable by international long distance operators or Internet service providers (ISP) to the owner of the cable landing station to access international bandwidth in a submarine cable.

Submarine cables provide international telecommunication links between countries across the world and these cables terminate in the country through cable landing stations.

"Availability of international bandwidth at competitive price to ISPs for rapid growth of broadband services, international carriage of voice/data at competitive rates and boosting of competition in the international bandwidth segment," TRAI said.

TRAI had issued the earlier regulations International Telecommunication Access to Essential Facility at Cable Landing Station Regulations in June 2007.

With a view to align AFC with current cost and utilisation, TRAI issued consultation paper on March 22, 2012.

On the basis of cost data submitted by service providers, TRAI estimated AFC and issued a consultation paper on 'Estimation of Access Facilitation Charges and Co-location Charges at Cable Landing Stations' on October 19, 2012, for further comments/counter comments of stakeholders.

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