Sunil Mittal takes up IUC issue with Trai

Geronimo Vena
Luglio 25, 2017

Even as the Trai and the incumbent telcos are locked in an intense debate over interconnect usage charge for domestic calls, Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Group, has pointed that the regulator not debating IUC for worldwide calls means it accepts that it is a globally accepted concept and should be cost-based. "The current IUC at 14 paise is already well below cost and it will be in fitness of things that while taking a final decision, the Authority upholds the principle of compensation of work done by each operator and the IUC is set at costs discovered through a fair and transparent mechanism", Mittal added.

In the letter, Mittal said that IUC for a call from India to the USA is about 1.2 cents, to Europe about 3-30 cents and to the Middle East about 10-14 cents. Neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, charge between 2-13 cents.

Telecom firms levy interconnection usage charges or IUC on incoming calls from the network of the other operator, and these termination charges are now 14 paise per minute. "Trai's own regulations enshrine the principle of cost-based IUC in line with global practices", Mittal said in the letter.

IUC is a time-tested global principle and the regulators - from the most advanced countries to the emerging ones - have all ensured that the concept of compensating operators for the investments and the work done by each one of them is adhered to, he said.

The IUC has been the bone of contention between incumbents telcos and Reliance Jio. "Trai not even debating this issue, therefore, confirms the Authority's acceptance to the principle that IUC is indeed settled global practice built on fair and equitable settlements for work done by each operator for carrying each other's call", Mittal said. Similarly, he said, for incoming calls to India, Trai had set an IUC of 53 paise.

Mittal asserted that IUC has no relation to customer tariff and customers are enjoying free or affordable calls is a testimony that the current IUC regime is not coming in the way of affordable tariffs.

Trai mandated MTC of 14 paise is well below the cost of producing a minute, which is now at 35 paise.

Any increase in termination charge would help incumbent operators as they tend to receive more incoming calls, especially from networks where voice calls are free.

For Mittal and incumbents, the worrying part is TRAI is not even raising or discussing the IUC on worldwide calls.

While Reliance Jio had said the continuation of IUC beyond 2014 has resulted in incumbent operators benefiting to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore.

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