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Equitable access for IDD subscribers : International Carrier Access Short Codes through online auction on may 22

By Channa Kasturisinghe

International Carrier Access Short Codes will be allocated to newly licensed External Gateway Operators (EGO) through an online auction on May 22, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) said yesterday.

The auction will allow licensed EGOs to select four-digit carrier access short codes of their preference among eighty-one short codes from the 18XY range. This move, another step towards creating a fully competitive international telecommunications environment, will facilitate equitable access for IDD subscribers, Secretary, Ministry of Mass Communication, Kumar Abeysinghe said.

Users will be able to choose from among different carriers on a call-by-call basis for the least cost routing, or on a pre select basis.

Customers who establish the subscription relationship with an EGO of their choice can access it by dialling the international carrier access code once these codes become operational.

"This online auction and the pricing of this scarce resource will enable the consumer to have a choice of operators in IDD from any fixed or cellular phone. Proposals submitted by Information Technology service providers for the online `auction engine' (Software and hardware system) is now under consideration by the TRCSL.

The primary business of these EGOs would be to terminate incoming international voice telephone calls on domestic operator networks and to carry outgoing international calls originating from domestic operator networks to overseas. The objective of issuing of EGO licences by TRCSL is mainly as a result of the government's commitment to fully liberalise the telecommunications sector as a thrust area for economic revival and to facilitate services across the country," Abeysinghe said.

The liberalisation in the local telecommunication industry has resulted in the elimination of the monopoly enjoyed by Sri Lanka Telecom Ltd. (SLTL) in international voice telephony and have resulted in the `driving down' of IDD rates.

Prof. Rohan Samarajiva of the Ministry of Economic Reform said that equal access has been successfully implemented in many countries for long-distance service, where customers can choose from among multiple operators on pre-select or 'call around' basis. Pre-select is a default arrangement whereby a customer has a relationship with a particular provider of international telecom services. Under the new arrangements, Sri Lanka will offer customers both options.

"Telephone numbers and short codes, which are a limited natural resource and a public asset as well, need to be managed in a transparent and efficient manner that contributes to ensuring the competitiveness of the industry. The planned auction is a prime example of the new transparent approach," Samarajiva said.


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