Interconnect charges have become a big bone of contention between Reliance Jio and Aircel, on the one hand, and the other telecom players, including Tata Teleservices, Idea, Airtel and Vodafone, on the other.
The contentious issue of interconnect usage charge (IUC), which the telecom regulator has more than halved to 6 paise a minute, is once again headed to the courts, said executives at India's top operators, which want to protect a source of revenue. A telecom operator presently charges 14 paise per minute for every incoming mobile call, called mobile termination charge (MTC), received from the other network. The older telecom players wanted it raised to at least 30 paise per minute.
Prior to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India' decision on Tuesday to cut mobile interconnect usage charges (IUC), Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), one of the largest investors and stakeholders in Bharti Airtel, had written a letter to Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha asking him not to do slash IUC.More news: Marchers in Bangladesh protest Rohingya plight
Trai said it is of the view that termination charges work as disincentive to the deployment of new technologies such as VoLTE and migration to IP networks by operators.
The IUC charges had been the focus of bitter exchanges between new entrant Reliance Jio and incumbent operators such as Airtel.
TOI was the first to report on the impending cut in IUC charges in its edition dated August 13.
Newcomer Reliance Jio, which has been aggressively selling its services by offering deep discounts and free handsets, has sought lower interconnect charges as its subscribers make more calls to rival networks while paying lower rates. Jio also stated that it is of the opinion that waiving the charge will benefit consumers. Charges levied for interconnecting mobile calls are at the centre of the IUC issue.