India’s leading telecom operators Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India on Tuesday suggested that a portion of phone tariffs called the “interconnection usage charge” be doubled, but newcomer Reliance Jio did not agree. The suggestion was made at a workshop organised by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Business Today reported. The IUC, which is fixed by Trai, is paid to the operator that handles the call and is included in the final tariff paid by consumers.
The telecom operators suggested increasing the IUC from the current 14 paise to 30-35 paise, which would eventually lead to higher mobile call rates. However, Jio suggested a zero IUC, reported The Hindu.
The Mukesh Ambani-led company alleged that the country’s three top operators did not implement a report on IUCs put out by Trai in 2011 and in doing so pocketed Rs 1 lakh over the past five years, reported the Business Standard. 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.
Trai will now hold an open-house discussion on July 20, 2017, and then give its final recommendations on the matter.
Trai Chairman RS Sharma confirmed that the operators had suggested an increase in the IUC, but did not name any particular operator. “Today all major operators participated (in the workshop),” Sharma said. “Some operators were of the view that we should go for the bill-and-keep [method], others asked for reducing the charges, some said keep to it at current levels. Some others said that it should be increased.”