The Telecom Regulator Authority of India (TRAI) had floated a consultation paper to review the inter-connection call charges. The industry body, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), had opposed the move to review the charges. It also asked the regulator to extend the deadline for submission of comments on the contentious consultation paper by more than two months, citing operators’ preoccupation with the upcoming auction. “We have sought additional time of over two months’ from the day spectrum auction concludes… this additional time will allow us to give a thorough and holistic response on the IUC paper,” COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews told PTI. The association has written to the regulator in this regard, he added. Also Read - Airtel 5G Mumbai trials show download speeds of 1.2Gbps, upload at 850MbpsAlso Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAI
He further said COAI has sought the extension as the same team within telecom companies (operators) which are going to be involved in the spectrum bidding will also be involved in the IUC paper. “After the auction, the festive season will kick in and some people may be away… So, we are saying that given that the IUC issue is contentious and the fact that Reliance Jio has also entered the market, the mobile operators want more time for a thorough analysis before submitting their views,” he said.
The telecom regulator TRAI has already extended, by three weeks, the deadline for receiving industry’s comments on the IUC discussion paper – thus pushing back the previous timeline for the review process. TRAI, which is in the midst of reviewing the inter-connection usage charge (IUC) — paid by one telecom operator to another for connecting phone calls — had originally sought public comments on its discussion paper by September 5 and counter-comments by September 19. TRAI had then extended the deadline for submission of written comments to September 26 and for counter-comments to October 10.
The discussion paper had kicked up a storm, with incumbent operators under the aegis of the cellular association accusing the sectoral regulator of favoring new entrants with its policies. The cellular body had earlier termed the regulator’s consultation on call connect charges as “unfair” on incumbent operators and had alleged that TRAI’s discussion paper was an indicator of “bias creeping in”. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio interconnect issue: TRAI orders Jio, Airtel and Vodafone to submit call traffic details
COAI had also questioned the regulator’s urgency in initiating the process of inter-connect review and had approached the Telecom Department to express its concern over the issue. A mobile operator levies IUC for each incoming call it gets from subscriber of another network and the mobile to mobile termination charge is currently pegged at 14 paise per minute – these rates will undergo a relook as part of the IUC consultation process. However, the top three operators – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea – which are engaged in a bitter inter-connect fight with the new entrant Reliance Jio, have been claiming that the real cost of termination is significantly higher than the current inter-connect settlement charge of 14 paise prescribed in the present IUC regime. ALSO READ: TRAI to act against telcos on network congestion norms
The incumbent players, in their tussle with the new entrant, have in fact claimed that they are incurring increasing costs due to high level of asymmetric traffic coming in from the Jio network.