Reliance Jio, incumbent telcos clash at Trai open house

Incumbent telecom operators- Bharti Airtel Vodafone and Idea Cellular- on Tuesday sought doubling of interconnection usage charge

Currently, it cost 14 percent per minute on all the incoming calls.

It also said that all the major telecom operators are in the process of launching VoLTE, under which the cost of providing a call is around 0.7-0.8 paise, then why should the charges be based on an old technology.

Any change in IUC has a direct impact on mobile call tariffs as the charge is taken into account while setting telecom tariffs.

Idea Cellular said the cost of carrying incoming call on its network is around 30 paise as per methodology used by Trai, while as per its own calculation, the cost is 35 paise per minute. The issue has been a bone of contention between incumbent players and newcomer Reliance Jio.

"I don't think that is required now because we think we have had extensive consultation process", Trai Chairman R S Sharma told reporters in response to query on COAI's demand.

"Such cost transfer will allow Reliance Jio to use its muscle power and price its services in a predatory manner to kill the rest of the industry and create a monopoly", it added. Trai, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court in 2011, had recommended that the IUC charges be brought down from 20 paise to 10 paise and telecom operators be given time till 2014 to move to a "bill-and-keep regime", under which the operators can only keep a record of incoming calls on their network.

Jio in its presentation before TRAI has said that "number one" operator, hinting at Airtel, has made excess of Rs 73,000 crore from interconnection usage charges (IUC).

"Trai should follow worldwide practice of making termination charge zero and pave way for encouraging new technologies in the country", Alvi said. After the completion of meeting with telecom operators, he said that some operators are asking to reduce the IUC rate and some want to increase it.

On the demand of further deliberation, Sharma said that was "not required now because we have had extensive consultations on the issue".

"The question of haste is do with ability of operators to review the model which is fundamental and foundational to determining whether it (IUC) is 2 paise, half paise or 36 paise".

Operators were of the view that they are unable to recover their basic cost at the current IUC rates.

Bharti Airtel today accused Reliance Jio of simply transferring its cost to the incumbent operators like Bharti Airtel by advocating "Bill and Keep" regime. "This process was started nearly a year back", he said adding that the Authority will not hold anymore consultations on IUC.

BSNL launched calling app with concept to make even ISD call charges at par with calls made within India.

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