Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio have been locking horns since the last few years, but recently the two telecom operators have been engaged in a different kind of rivalry. Since the past few months, the matter between the two rival telcos has been about missed calls and something called Interconnect Usage Charges (IUC). Now the Reliance Jio subscribers must have already noticed that the telco has reduced the ringing time of its outgoing calls down to 20 seconds from the previous limit of 45 seconds. Bharti Airtel was clearly not impressed by this move and was urging the authorities to make Reliance Jio switch to the previous limit. However, in a new move, the telecom operator has itself reduced its ringing time to 25 seconds to maintain the current state of things.
Trai Not Listening to Telcos' Demand of Uniform Ringing Time
As per a new update reported by Mint, Bharti Airtel has said that despite repeated demands to the telecom regulator, it has not sent any direction to Reliance Jio to up its ringing time back to the previous time limit of 45 seconds. It also added that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has not issued any general order as well to the telecom operators regarding setting the ringing time to 30 seconds for all the operators to bring uniformity. Bharti Airtel brought these changes on September 28, which were revealed in a letter sent by Bharti Airtel to Trai.
The Sunil Bharti Mittal led telecom operator also remarked, “In the absence of any direction from Trai and to prevent further loss of IUC (interconnect usage charge), we are not left with no other option than to reduce the timer in our network as well.” It is worth noting that the issue of the Interconnect Usage Charges (IUC) is what remains at the heart of this issue.
Bharti Airtel Alleges Reliance Jio for Gaming IUC Regime
To recall, Bharti Airtel had issued another letter in which it had pointed allegations towards Reliance Jio, not directly but by the use of rhetoric saying that a certain telecom operator was ‘gaming’ the IUC regime. Airtel said that by reducing the call ringing time, Reliance Jio was trying to bring network symmetry which is currently not the case, as most outgoing calls are made from its network. As a result of this, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are net IUC gainers. The reduction of ringing time would give less time to the users to pick up calls, which would then call back on the Reliance Jio number thus creating an influx of incoming calls to Reliance Jio, reducing its IUC payout. Currently, IUC in the industry is paid at the rate of 6 paise per minute.
The Row Over IUC Revenue
Back in 2017, when the data tariff war was in full fervour, Trai had brought new changes to the IUC rules to bring down the cost to 6 paise per minute from the previous price of 14 paise per minute. However, at that point Reliance Jio was in favour of lowered IUC as it would have to pay less on a per-call basis, for every call that is carried over its network. But, now the cards have flipped as most outgoing calls are being made from Reliance Jio network.
Currently, Trai is discussing whether the IUC should be scrapped altogether, given the asymmetry that persists in the network traffic between different operators. In September, the telecom regulator had also floated another consultation paper to discuss the ideal time for outgoing call rings after receiving complaints that a single telecom operator had reduced its ringing time to 20 seconds. There has been no direction on the same yet and because of this indecisiveness Bharti Airtel to take things into its own hands and lower the ringing time of outgoing calls on its network similar to Reliance Jio.