Telecom Italia, BSNL in global alliance, sources say

State-Owned BSNL plans to enter into a global alliance with Telecom Italia for its international calling card business, industry sources, quoted by local paper The Economic Times, said.

The BSNL-Telecom Italia joint venture to launch calling cards in all countries will begin with the US market, the sources said.

'BSNL as a strategic partner of Telecom Italia will support India termination and take advantage of Telecom Italia's knowledge of international calling card market worldwide," the source, familiar with the deal, said.

The Economic Times report said that as per industry estimates, the outgoing traffic from the US to India is about 450 million minutes per month, of which about 200 million minutes are accounted for by calling cards. BSNL's move to enter the calling card segment is set to kick off a series of tariff wars abroad, the sources further said.  

Bharti Airtel launched its calling card business in the US last year at rates it claimed were 40% cheaper than the prevailing market tariffs.

AT&T also slashed tariffs for calling card rates from $14.99 per month to $11.99 per month for 60 minutes of calls to India.

BSNL has projected revenues of about $170 million in the first year of launching calling card services in the US.  

Other Indian telcos such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and VSNL have already launched calling cards in global markets.

Sources said that the calling cards would first be launched in the US followed by Canada and European countries, according to The Economic Times report.