TRAI plans to decrease interconnect charges; voice calls to get cheaper

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is looking forward to cutting the fee which telecom service providers (TSP) pay each other while connecting calls from one operator to another, thereby the consumers may have to pay less for making calls.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

As per a report in the Times of India, the regulatory body is mulling on decreasing the Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC), to 10 paise per minute as against 14 paise per minute for wireless to wireless local and national long distance calls. In a consultation paper released by TRAI in 2016, Consultation Paper on Review of Interconnection Usage Charges, the body sought review from various stakeholders about such charges in this matter.

In an open house session in the Parliament last month, which was attended by stakeholders, parliamentarians, and telecom operators. Telecom giants such as Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone had vouched for IUC to be fixed at more than double the current price, which is 30-35 paise per minute, while telecom newbie Jio wanted it to be reduced to half the price at seven paise per minute.

Meanwhile, Lok Sabha MP, Prem Singh Chandramuja had observed, “TRAI should clarify why it did not implement 'Bill and Keep' regime as per its submission made before Supreme Court? Consumers have been unnecessarily burdened by paying extra. TRAI should immediately withdraw 14 paise IUC and benefit should be passed on to consumers."

While telecom operators such as Jio want the interconnection feet to be brought down to half the current price, as it feels that IUC is 'an artificial barrier created by incumbent operators with legacy technologies', other operators such as Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular earn thousands of crores from it. According to the Times of India, Airtel had IUC transactions to the tune of Rs 10,279 cr last year.

According to Times of India's source, TRAI is looking forward to decreasing the IUC charges for calls made over the internet to at least three paise per minute. Sources who have spoken to the paper have said that the IUC rates for VoIP calls are around 3 paise per minute and that 14 paise is too much of a cost, which is bound to come down.

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Updated Date: Aug 13, 2017 11:26 AM