Maria Montero

Jio will charge 6 paise per minute for voice calls made …

The Interconnection Use Charge or IUC is a cost paid by one mobile telecommunications operator to another, when its clients make outgoing mobile calls to the clients of the other operator. These calls between two different networks are known as mobile calls outside the network. The IUC charges are set by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and are currently 6 paise per minute.

TRAI, repeatedly since 2011, affirmed its position that the IUC charges should be reduced to zero.

  • Affidavit dated 29th October 2011 of TRAI in the Supreme Supreme Court:

Quote:

“8.12… TRAI is of the opinion that there should be a progressive reduction in termination charges eventually converging to a zero termination charge… at the end of 2 years from now.”

The Interconnection Use Charge or IUC is a cost paid by one mobile telecommunications operator to another, when its clients make outgoing mobile calls to the clients of the other operator. Image: Reuters

(In 2011, TRAI expressed its opinion that the termination charge should be made zero by 2014. It should be noted that at that time, neither 4G nor Jio existed).

  • After a comprehensive review of the IUC regime through a transparent and drafted consultation process in 2016, TRAI issued the Telecommunication Interconnection Use Charges (Thirteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2017 (submitted to the Parliament of India ) as follows:

“2. … ..

“(are. 0.06 (only paise six) per minute with effect from October 1, 2017 to December 31, 2019; and

(b) 0 (Zero) with effect from 1H January 2020 “…”.

The effect of the above amendment is:

  • The IUC for mobile calls was reduced from 14 paise per minute to 6 paise per minute from October 1, 2017; Y
  • IUC for mobile calls will be ZERO from 1S t January 2020.
  • In addition, the same Regulation establishes:

Quote:

  • “46.… The Authority is of the opinion that termination charges act as a disincentive for the deployment of new technologies such as VoLTE and the migration to IP networks by operators.”
  • “63.… The BAK regime would encourage operators to invest in new technologies and reduce the cost of voice services to almost zero.”(BAK – Bill and Keep means zero termination fee)

(Despite the disincentive, Jio implemented the new technology.)

  • “59. In fact,BAK will be a catalyst for traffic symmetry. It offers TSPs the right incentives to serve their clients efficiently and brings market discipline to the competition …Obviously, the demand for cost-based IUC until there is traffic symmetry is a vicious cycle. Only by eliminating the cost-based IUC can this vicious cycle be broken.(underlined to highlight)
  • “95. Establishing a clear outlook for IUC would provide regulatory predictability and allow service providers to plan their networks and businesses accordingly…”.
  • “96.… As a result, the Authority prescribes a Bill and Keep regime for wireless to wireless calls effective January 1, 2020.”
  • “47. Consequently, the Authority considers that, if the current national termination charge regime based on cost is prolonged for a long time, it would hinder the movement of the sector towards (i) the deployment of more efficient technologies; and (ii) more innovative and customer-friendly rate offers; and, in turn, would be detrimental to the growth of the telecommunications services sector.… “

Relying on TRAI’s reiterated stance and the amendment already made to the regulations that reduce the IUC to zero, Jio continued to pay IUC out of its own resources to Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, etc., while offering free voice to its customers. So far, in the past three years, Jio has paid almostRs. 13,500 crore as NET IUC charges the other operators.

Unfortunately, after the previous order in 2017, while incumbents lowered voice rates for their 4G customers, they continued to charge exorbitant rates to their customers from Rs 35 to Rs 40 million, and in fact increased the rates for voice calls to around Rs. 1.50 / minute. They also charge a minimum of Rs 500 / GB for their 2G customers’ data.

The price differential for free voice on the Jio network and the exorbitantly high rates on the 2G networks mean that Airtel and Vodafone-Idea’s Rs 35-40 crore 2G customers give Jio customers missed calls. The Jio network receives25 to 30 crore of missed calls daily.