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Local phone rates to rise by up to 28% JAKARTA - Independent experts criticized on Wednesday the government's decision to allow the country's fixed-line operators to raise local telephone rates by up to 28 percent. Sudaryatmo of the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) said "the government is not sensitive enough to realize that the phone rates hike will simply be another burden on the public." "The government should first carry out a study into the public's capability to pay the higher rates in relation to their incomes, before allowing the phone rate hike," he told The Jakarta Post.
He said that this year alone, there had already been increases in the price of six public services and commodities -- toll roads, gas, water, railway, parking and the latest, telephones. Telecommunications expert Roy Suryo also voiced the same opinion, saying, "the government seems to be in a rush to make such a decision". Roy acknowledged that telephone rates in the country were still relatively low when compared to rates in neighboring countries like Singapore and the Philippines.
But he said that such a comparison was not fair, considering that per capita incomes in Singapore and the Philippines were higher at US$24,000 and $1,018, respectively, while the figure was only around $969 in Indonesia. Currently, local calls here cost Rp 195 per 1.5 minutes, or Rp 132 (1.6 US cents) per minute. In Singapore, local calls cost 25 Singapore cents (15 US cents) per minute, and in the Philippines can be as low as 10 US cents per minute.
With an increase of up to 28 percent, domestic call rates would be Rp 250 per 1.5 minutes, equivalent to Rp 168 (2 US cents) per minute -- still lower than those in Singapore and the Philippines. Minister of Communications Agum Gumelar stated on Tuesday that the government would allow state-owned telecommunications firms PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom) and PT Indonesia Satellite Corporation (Indosat), the only fixed-line operators in the country, to raise local phone rates by up to 28 percent, on condition that long-distance call rates were lowered by at least 10 percent.
The decision came as a result of the 9 percent rates rebalancing calculated by the Indonesian Telecommunications Regulatory Body (BRTI). Rebalancing is a form of synchronization between rates for local and long-distance calls. The government explained that the 9 percent rates rebalancing was needed to eliminate the cross-subsidy from long-distance to local calls as part of efforts to promote healthy competition in the telecoms sector.
Telkom, which controls 95 percent of the fixed-lined sector, said that the new rates might take effect as early as April. Analysts have said that the higher phone rates would boost the earnings of publicly listed Telkom, which has already enjoyed strong revenue from years of monopolizing the sector. Elsewhere, Roy urged the government to allow more players to enter the fixed-lined sector to boost competition and produce cheaper phone rates. "With more operators participating in the sector, customers would have more options to choose from, forcing operators to compete by lowering their rates," said Roy.

Cell phone owners to pay higher interconnection fees

Cell phone users will pay a higher fee for making phone calls to fixed-line phones following the government's decision to raise local call rates. Under the existing regulation, the interconnection fee payable by cellphone users for making calls to fixed-line phones amounts to 50 percent of local call rates. The government announced on Tuesday it had raised the local call rates by 28 percent.
"This means that if local call rates are raised by up to 28 percent, the interconnection call fees will be as much as 14 percent more than the current rate," said Indonesian Cellular Phone Provider Association (ATSI) chairman Rudiantara in Jakarta on Wednesday. Currently, local call rates stand at Rp 195 per 1.5 minutes, or Rp 132 (1.6 US cents) per minute. This means that cell phone users currently have to pay Rp 66 per minute in interconnection fee plus airtime fees of around Rp 300 per minute. With an increase of up to 14 percent, cell phone users will have to pay up to Rp 84 per minute in interconnection fee.
Jonny Suwandi Sjam, senior vice president of telecoms firm Indosat, which operates cellular phone service Satelindo, noted the new phone rate policy would not affect the cost of making calls from one cellphone to another.



Posted in General @ 01 April 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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