TRAI orders sharp cut in mobile interconnection fees

Doris Richards
September 20, 2017

One telecom operator which hasn't opposed the move is Reliance Jio.

For example, if a Jio subscriber calls a Vodafone subscriber then Reliance Jio will pay 14 paise per minute for that call to Vodafone and vice-versa.

The telecom regulator also said that no call termination charge will be applicable from January 1, 2020.

"It should have been implemented in 2014 as envisaged in the 2011 report submitted by TRAI to the Supreme Court, and will be six years too late", the Jio statement said. The IUC is a charge that has to paid by the service provider whose users originates a call to from its network to other service provider network.

Apart from Airtel, the decision has upset other telecom operators too.

Reliance Communications' stance on the matter is in contrast to that of the larger players like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone that have slammed the Trai's latest decision.

Trai issued a consultation paper for review of the IUC on 5 August past year to seek stakeholders' views on various aspects of the existing IUC Regulation that came into effect from March 2015. The incumbents including Airtel and Vodafone-Idea are already bleeding with the aggressive offerings by Jio. Vodafone in a statement on Tuesday night said this was a "retrograde" decision which will benefit only Jio and impact the sector specially in the rural coverage. Since IUC charges are applicable to just voice calls, the consumers are not likely to benefit because voice calls are offered for free by nearly all telecom operators.

The termination charges will be completely scrapped from January 1, 2020. Since IP based networks are poised to be the networks of the future for providing telecom services, a BAK regime should be seen as a natural facilitator for the development of technology.

Mathews also said that customers will not be benefitted from this.

TRAI's move itself has surprised many.

Expressing disappointment at the new regulations, Airtel said the industry is facing severe financial stress and the cut in the interconnection usage charges (IUC) will "further worsen" the situation.

Vodafone has announced it is "disappointed" with TRAI's decision and is now considering its options in response to it.

Mobile operators won't be able to pass on the benefit to the consumers and one should not expect the call charges to go further down. He said that the move will place additional financial burden to telecom industry which was already undergoing a major financial stress.

Jio denied such accusations, saying that operators across the world are moving to internet-based telephony and that the cost of voice calls has fallen dramatically.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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