The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Tuesday decided to defer its decision to scrap Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) by a year. The charge, which was supposed to be scrapped on January 1, 2020, will now be scrapped on January 1, 2021.
All service providers pay a certain fee for calls made from one network which lands on another network — which is the IUC. This is currently charged at Rs 0.06 per minute — a figure fixed by TRAI. Companies which have more incoming calls than outgoing calls benefit by this rule, because the other telecom operator pays them.
“For wireless to wireless domestic calls, termination charge would continue to remain as Re 0.06 (paise six only) per minute up to December 31, 2020,” TRAI said. The charges were reduced to 6 paise with effect from October 1, 2017 from 14 paise charged earlier.
The TRAI had then decided that IUC would be scrapped from January 1, 2020, because it had assumed that outgoing and incoming calls from multiple networks would even themselves out. At the time of this announcement, Jio was in its nascent stages.
However, following Jio disrupting the market, this was no longer the case.
In September, the TRAI had issued a consultation paper, asking if it should defer the Jan 2020 deadline for scrapping IUC.
“On the basis of comments received from stakeholders in writing and during the open house discussion, and its own analysis, the Authority has prescribed the revised date of applicability of Bill and Keep (BAK)regime i.e. zero termination charges in respect of wireless to wireless domestic calls w.e.f 1st January 2021 through these Regulations,” the TRAI said in a release.
Jio, which until very recently had free calling, has been batting for the IUC to be brought down to zero because there was a higher volume of outgoing calls from Jio to Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
Jio claims to have paid nearly Rs 13,500 crore as IUC charges to other operators and due to ‘exorbitant tariffs’ charged by other networks. Jio received 25 to 30 crore missed calls on a daily basis from Airtel and Vodafone-Idea.