Telecom consumer body seeks removal of interconnection usage charge on mobile calls

  • A telecom consumers' body has sought removal of 6 paise interconnection usage charge (IUC) from 1 January next year as it deprives weaker sections of the society of new-age services and a better experience

  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had proposed to move from the current IUC regime to the BAK (bill and keep) regime where no operator will charge for mobile call transmission, from 1 January, 2020

  • However, the regulator recently floated a consultation paper on whether there is a need to defer the date of removing mobile call termination charge

New Delhi: A telecom consumers' body has sought removal of 6 paise interconnection usage charge (IUC) from 1 January next year as it deprives weaker sections of the society of new-age services and a better experience.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had proposed to move from the current IUC regime to the BAK (bill and keep) regime where no operator will charge for mobile call transmission, from 1 January, 2020.

However, the regulator recently floated a consultation paper on whether there is a need to defer the date of removing mobile call termination charge.

The Telecom User Group (TUG) in it submission to regulator TRAI has requested to move to BAK regime from 1 January.

 Telecom consumer body seeks removal of interconnection usage charge on mobile calls

Representational image. ThinkStock

"Existing IUC regime will add to the digital divide where the weaker sections of the society will not benefit from newer technologies. Industry estimates suggest users are paying over Rs 200 on account of IUC annually.

"Consumers could spend the same money for new services that will come through technology upgrades and innovations," Anil Prakash, President, TUG India said.

The TUG said the continuation of IUC framework will delay the process of modernisation of networks.

"Any policy decision is expected to foster innovation and keep consumer interests supreme to every other stakeholder including the government. In this view, it will be regressive to defer implementation of BAK procedure of dealing with IUC," Prakash said.

TRAI reduced IUC on mobile calls from 14 paise to 6 paise per minute from 1 October, 2017 onwards and it was set to become nil from 1 January, 2020.

However, in September this year, the regulator floated a consultation paper regarding deferring the deadline and invited views from all stakeholders.

Telecom operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and BSNL have favoured the extension of the 1 January deadline while Reliance Jio has opposed it.

"TUG India is of the view that the government must go ahead with its schedule of 1 January, 2020 to implement the BAK method...as it fosters innovation and serves the interests of the consumers in the most effective manner," Prakash said.

(Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd which publishes Firstpost)

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Updated Date: Nov 01, 2019 17:35:57 IST