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TRAI Schedules Open House Discussion On Interconnect Usage Charges

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has scheduled for Nov. 15 its open house discussion on the interconnect usage charges issue that has seen old and new operators erupt in a war of words recently.

According to the information on the TRAI website, the open house discussion (that typically follows written submissions on an issue being examined) for IUC has been scheduled for Nov. 15.

Bharti Airtel Ltd. had earlier accused Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. of “gaming” the system of paying for calls to rival network. Jio has returned fire arguing that incumbents are charging high voice tariffs and manipulating the system to the detriment of their users.

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio had also alleged that review of call connect charges by TRAI “sabotages” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for Digital India, and will hit not only the regulator’s credibility but also investor confidence as the move protects vested interests of some old operators.

Last month, Jio had also alleged that TRAI’s move is arbitrary, bad in law, unwarranted, and anti-poor, as the newest entrant mounted a relentless attack on the regulator and old operators over the contentious IUC issue that has polarised the industry.

Typically, a telecom operator pays for completing calls made by its subscribers to a rival network. This is done by paying the rival network an interconnect usage charge, which currently is 6 paise per minute.

TRAI’s move to reopen the deadline for ending charges for terminating calls on rival networks beyond January 2020 had forced Jio to levy a 6 paise per minute charge on its users recently, effectively ending its free call regime.―Bloomberg Quint

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