The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Friday reduced the international call termination rate to 30 paise per minute from the current 53 paise. The prices of international calls are expected to drop.

The termination charge is paid by an international long distance operator, from whose network the call originated, to the Indian telecom operator on whose network it terminated. The new rates will be in effect from February 1.

The move follows a steep reduction of the domestic Interconnection Usage Charge from 14 paise per minute to 6 paise, effective from October 2017. An operator charges their rival an Interconnection Usage Charge when a user ends a domestic call on their network.

However, Indian telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India are not happy with the decision. They were, in fact, going to ask for an increase in the rates to Re 1, and then later to Rs 3.5 per minute, The Economic Times reported.

“The Authority is of the view that, while deciding on the appropriate level of ITC [international termination charge] in the country, curbing the menace of grey route should be a more important regulatory priority than facilitating the shift of the international incoming traffic from OTT [over-the-top] route to carrier route,” TRAI said.

It added that the grey market, which routes international calls by setting up illegal voice-over internet protocol gateways, needed to be curbed. “At present, about 20 per cent international incoming calls terminate in India via grey routes.”

“In view of the significant arbitrage opportunity between international termination charge and domestic rates, high level of international termination charge will also give rise to growth of the grey market at the cost of national security and revenues of Indian operators,” the telecom regulator said.