Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal has reportedly asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to reject the ‘bill and keep’ (BAK) regime and continue to allow telcos to levy interconnect usage charge (IUC) as per global practice, and said that the free/affordable phone calls customers are enjoying prove that IUC does not come in the way of affordable rates, adding that charges levied by a telco on incoming calls landing on its network have no relation with the tariff.
Notably, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, Reliance Communications, Aircel and MTNL have demanded to scrap of the IUC regime and moving to the Bill and Keep (BAK) regime. Under the BAK regime, incoming calls landing charges are not levied or paid as they are supposed to cancel out. However, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular had sought to double of MTC, part of IUC, saying termination of incoming calls on their networks costs 30-35 paise per minute.
The regulator had issued a consultation paper on the levy almost a year ago and will soon give its recommendations.
Mittal, in his letter, said that IUC has ensured investments in networks continued.He said that the current IUC at 14 paise is already well below cost and “it will be in the 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 sat costs discovered through a fair and transparent mechanism.”
“While a debate, based on both information and misinformation is taking centre stage, I feel it necessary to add my views in the hope for a fair and reasonable outcome of the current IUC process…In the current debate going on in India on IUC, what surprises me the most is that no one has even talked about IUC for international calls settlement… The TRAI not even debating this issue, therefore, confirms the authority’s acceptance to the principle that IUC is indeed a settled global practice built on fair and equitable settlements for work done by each operator for carrying each other’s calls,” said Mittal.
He said that Indian telcos are required to pay approximately 1 cent for every call that originate from their network and terminate on that of foreign operators.