International Incoming Call Rates Will Not Go Down Again!

International Incoming Call Rates Will Not Go Down Again!Pakistanis living abroad are paying high rates for calling their friends and family in Pakistan Since October 2012 as the call rates to Pakistan increased by 400% (on average) after ICH or International Clearing House was implemented.

Later on, as you all may know, a petition was filed in Lahore High Court and eventually the ICH was suspended through court orders on October 30th, 2012. Furthering the court order, PTA also directed all telecom operators to revise their rates to pre-ICH level.

However, Pakistani living abroad are still paying high rates for making calls to their FnF in Pakistan. In this post we will try to explain those Pakistanis that why these rates are likely to remain high FOR EVER.

How International Incoming Calls are Charged?

To begin with, let’s understand the mechanism with which international incoming calls are charged. For that, following are charges that are attached with an international incoming call:

International Incoming Call Charges = ASR + Pakistani Operator’s Charges + APC (In case call is terminated on mobile number)

  • ASR (Approved Settlement Rates) is the share of charges that go to foreign operator or the operator that originates the call, such as Etisalat,Verizon, Orange etc.
  • Pakistani Operator’s Charges = Share of charges that go to Pakistani operator that receives calls, such as PTCL, Mobilink, Telenor etc.
  • APC (Access Promotion Charges) = APC charges are imposed on every international incoming calls. APC charges for the calls that terminate on landline numbers go to local operator, such as PTCL, but APC charges for the calls that are terminated on mobile numbers go to USF.

Pre-ICH International Incoming Rates:

Now that we understand all the components of charges involved in international incoming call, here are the authority (PTA) approved rates that were applicable before ICH:

  • ASR: 6.25 cents / minute
  • LDI’s Share: 5.0 cents / minute
  • APC: 1.25 cents / minute
  • Total Charges: 12.5 cents / minute

So theoretically, maximum possible call charges before ICH were 12.5 cents per minute. However, due to competition – and various other reasons that we will explain below – international calls were charged at as low as 1.5 to 2 cents per minute.

LDI operators used to decrease their share (5.0 cents per minute) to as low as 1.25 cents per minute, while they never collected APC since the issue of APC collection was in court and operators thought to not to charge APC at all to offer lower call rate and hence get more share for international incoming calls.

It maybe recalled that almost every operator had taken the APC collection case to court and were granted stay orders. Operators in fact didn’t charge APC from distant callers and hence the total call charges for international incoming call was as low as 1.5 to 2 cents per minute.

During-ICH International Incoming Rates:

Due to ICH, all these rates were revised as following:

  • ASR: 8.80 cents / minute
  • LDI’s Share: 5.9 cents / minute
  • APC: 2.90 cents / minute
  • Total Charges: 17.6 cents / minute

After October 1st, 2012, telecom operators started charging these new rates from international callers, which were, in some cases, 10 times higher than the old rates.

Post-ICH International Incoming Rates:

After ICH was suspended by Lahore High Court, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority directed all operators to revise their rates to original Pre-ICH level. Complying with this PTA directive, telecom operators in Pakistan revised their international incoming call charges and settled them at 12.5 cents per minutes (see above pre-ICH rates).

Things were different this time, as LDI operators were closely bonded now and competition was almost nil. Hence instead of lowering call charges and not charging APC, they all are charging maximum allowed rates that are as following:

  • ASR: 6.25 cents / minute
  • LDI’s Share: 5.0 cents / minute
  • APC: 1.25 cents / minute
  • Total Charges: 12.5 cents / minute

I am not saying that telecom operators have formed a cartel, as there is no such evidence available to anyone, but considering that all operators are charging the same rates for international incoming calls, it hints that operators are in some kind of understanding which is helping them all.

And hence, Pakistanis living abroad are still paying high, despite the fact that ICH is suspended now.

Crux:

For those who are unable to understand the technicalities, here is the the complete story in simpler words:

Before ICH, operators were in competition and they used to offer lowest possible rates to international callers and hence rates used to be low. Now after ICH, there seems to be no competition and hence all operators are charging maximum possible rates and this is why rates are high and likely to remain high unless the competition starts again.

If there is anything confusing you, or you still need further explanation then please drop your question in below comments.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK