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September 18, 1998


Death postponed: The life of the cell phone licence has been extended from 10 to 15 years. The life of the licence to operate cellular telephone services in the country has been extended from 10 years to 15 years. Communications Minister Sushma Swaraj announced this today, conceding to a long pending demand of cellular operators who are not doing very well.

Email this story to a friend. She told an annual economic editors' conference in New Delhi that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India would decide on the new terms and conditions of the licenses.

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The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting last night, she said.

On the issue of the deemed deputation status of DoT employees who are working for Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (Group C&D), Swaraj said the employees' service would be terminated and they would be absorbed by MTNL. DoT and MTNL will jointly decide on the modalities.

The government, Swaraj said, had cleared the policy for 'global mobile personal communications by satellite' technology based services. There will be no restrictions on the number of operators of these services in a given area, she promised.

Swaraj also announced that the retired employees of different categories of the DoT would get relief on telephone rentals and calling rates.

According to Swaraj, the entire 'short-distance call' area will now be treated as one local area for the purpose of charging.

With this decision, calls to adjacent short distance call areas, which are being charged STD rates, will now get the facility of inter-dialling on a basic rate of three minutes per call unit (the local call rate).

Earlier local areas were restricted to a 5-km radius from the telephone exchange or the municipal boundary, whichever was greater.

She also announced a decision to permit conference facility to public call office franchisees of the department at the existing tariff and commission.

This facility will enable the public to make STD and ISD calls from their homes even if they have not subscribed to the facility. All they have to do is call a PCO and ask for a long-distance number. To operate this facility, the PCO operators will have to subscribe to an additional non-STD direct exchange connection.

This would allow them to give STD and ISD connection to the public without blocking the local PCO (coin collecting box) installed at their premises, she said.

Swaraj said a final decision had been taken on two of the ten demands of postal employees relating to bonus and postmen. The third demand is being looked into, she assured, adding that a meeting of the employees union has already been held in this regard.

Swaraj revealed that the TRAI is finalising proposals regarding telecom tariff and the people's opinion on this is being kept in mind.

Regarding uplinking of cable connections, she said circle operators would be provided this facility, not the metro operators.


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