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CELL PHONE WOES: CONNECTIONS TO RATES

Connection overload cannot be the reason as we hear that NT is planning to release over 55,000 connections again.  Its promise of fixing the problem late last year when the problem of connection went out of hand not happened, for reasons best known to NT. As for the expertise of the NT engineers and technicians, I am no authority.  But what I can say definitely is that NT is not returning the true value of money of the consumers who pay a very high amount for the bad services.Just have a glance at the charges for mobile phone services.
Besides these monopolistic, and uncompetitive rates, the consumers are at the end of their tethers due to the problems listed above.  The very idea of easy connectivity from anytime, anywhere has long become extinct.That this scenario should have changed for better, both price-and service-wise, is something we all know and we all expect.

Now contrast this scenario with India where cell phones have long crossed the threshold of luxury items and become an integral part of even the ubiquitous panwallahs in every nook and corner of the country.  Some estimates put the number of mobile users at 30 million, that is, a million more than the entire landlines in India. And the cell phone users are growing each passing year. Services, the consumers say, are excellent and charges very competitive.  The service providers, after lowering the prices, are now trying to attract potential users and retain the existing ones by providing them with attractive features. The outgoing rates mobile to mobile rates are as low as Rs 1 (NRS 1.6).  The beauty is that incoming calls are free at all times, unlike the 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. NT scheme.  If a service provider fails to live upto its promises, the users can easily discard the said service provider and take its competitorís scheme. The competition among the cell phone service providers, both public and private, is so fierce that the consumers have a lot of schemes to choose from.
The latest offer by Air Tel is an example.  It has now come up with a group scheme.  For each 25 users in a group, the charges for outgoing calls is just 60 paisa (roughly one Nepali rupees) and within the group, it is even lower just 40 paisa (in Nepali currency just 64 paisa). With telecom revolution in India, the services are bound to be better and competitive and the consumers have a lot of choices.  True value for their money, one might add. Since our exchange rates have been tagged with that of India, why doesnít the same logic apply for call charges?  After all, the SMS messages rates are similar.  In India, the SMS charges are 60 paise and Rs 6 for national and international message-sending, respectively, through cell-phones.  In Nepal, they match the rates, with Rs 1 and Rs 10 being the corresponding charges.
Perhaps the NT bosses would pay heed now to the consumerís woes.  To start with, remove the connection problems and make the rates competitive, with the incoming calls, on both post-and pre-paid, being made free.  Why wait for a private entity to enter the scene and then offer concession?

 

Post Paid call charges

Local Call Tariff

ATC

(Air Time Charge)

 

 

 

Outgoing     call/min

Off Peak Hours

 

 

Rs. 1.80

Peak Hours

 

 

Rs. 3.60

Incoming call/ min

From     PSTN

Free

Rs. 1.00

 

From     Mobile

Free

Rs. 0.50

Saturday   Outgoing   call/min

Rs. 1.80

Rs. 1.80

Saturday   Incoming   call/min

Free

Rs. 0.50

 

Pre-paid call charges

 

Call   type

ATC / minute

Sunday to Saturday

 

Peak (From 8:00 to 20:00)

Off Peak (20:00 to 8:00)

Outgoing

Rs. 4.68

Rs. 4.68

Incoming

From PSTN

Rs. 1.20

Free

 

From Mobile

Rs. 0.60

Free

 

 

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 24/1/2005

keyterms: cell phones, mobile telecommunications, Kathmandu, SMS, Nepal

 

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