Reliance Jio, the Mukesh Ambani led telecom operator who is responsible for all the ongoing disruption in the Indian telecom sector has finally responded to Trai's recent decision of reduction in IUC.
Reliance Jio says that it is committed to implementing the most efficient telecommunications network in India and passing on the benefits of technology to Indian customers. "Jio offers free voice services to all its customers backed by a superior technology and has helped make India the world’s largest mobile data consuming country within one year of commencement of services," said the company in a press statement.
We all know that Reliance Jio wanted Trai to implement the Bill & Keep regime where operators won't charge Interconnect Usage Charges (IUC) at all. However, Trai stated that the BAK regime will be effective from January 1, 2020. For now, operators have to pay 6 paise per minute as IUC.
"Implementation of Bill & Keep regime will help in making services more affordable for Indian customers. It should have been implemented in 2014 as envisaged in the 2011 Report submitted by TRAI to the Hon’ble Supreme Court and will be six years too late," said Reliance Jio in a press statement.
"Jio has always offered free voice services to its customers. There is no question of any advantage from the new IUC regulation to Jio as it has already passed on all the benefits to customers. We deny any benefits to Jio. At a time when the world is moving towards IP-based technologies, cost of voice has come down to a fraction of a paisa and the customers should enjoy this advantage," it added.
The Delhi High Court earlier today dismissed the petition of one of the incumbent operators while pronouncing that the appeal fails to show any violation of Section 11 (4) of the TRAI Act, 1997 (principles of transparency). It is appalling that the incumbent operators have still gone ahead and made untrue and baseless allegations against the process for determination of IUC or the regulator. The incumbent operators have a history of opposing all the IUC regulations over the last 8 years but have not been successful in thwarting passing of the benefits of lower IUC to customers.
References to financial stress in the industry or the need for IUC to promote rural coverage again shows the attitude of the incumbent operators wherein IUC is being treated as a subsidy that the Indian customers must pay to sustain these operators financially. On the contrary, it is a fact that the high-cost IUC regime thus far has caused financial stress for the smaller and new operators.
Technology is fast determining growth opportunities in the world. It is the responsibility of all the operators and other stakeholders to work together to achieve the vision of Digital India and transform the digital landscape of India. A forward-looking regulatory regime will contribute to achieving that vision.