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CCI Dismisses Unfair Business Practices Plea Against Telecom Operators

The Competition Commission has dismissed a complaint against Vodafone Idea Ltd., Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Sify Technologies which alleged that they were charging higher rates for overseas inbound calls as compared to the ceiling fixed by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

The order came on a complaint filed by Canada-based Teleclub (Alberta Ltd.), which is an international telecom carrier.

The complainant alleged that the Indian telecom operators together decided to charge a standard rate of $0.0053 for inbound calls terminating on their network in India, instead of the rates fixed by TRAI.

As per Interconnection Usage Charges Regulations, 2018, the telecom regulator prescribes international termination charges of Rs 0.30 per minute for international incoming calls to wireline and wireless networks, it said.

It added that the telecom operators further increased the rate of inbound calls to $0.0115 per minute after another meeting in February 2018.

Besides, they allegedly harassed the firm by choking its ports used for sending traffic. Subsequently, the Competition Commission of India sought the opinion of the TRAI on the matter.

CCI, from the submission of TRAI, noted that as per IUC Regulations, the regulator has prescribed the international termination charges for international incoming calls but international settlement charge is not regulated under the norms and has to be decided based on mutual negotiations between the Indian long-distance operators and foreign service providers.

The complainant has “mistaken International Termination Charges i.e. ITC as International Settlement Charge i.e. ISC”, CCI noted.

“The Commission has prima facie not found any evidence to indicate that OPs have fixed the rates through any concerted action amongst themselves, so as to warrant an investigation,” CCI, while disposing of the complaint, said.―Bloomberg Quint

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