There has been a big debate going on in the Indian telecom industry about the Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC). Although IUC sounds like a matter which not many of the consumers would care to know about, the situation of the industry has become such that they have to be concerned about it now. This is courtesy of the latest telecom entrant, Reliance Jio which is now directly charging IUC from its subscribers. However, all this aside, a big hand in shaping the rules of the industry and hence the IUC rules is of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), is the institution which, in the past, has been responsible for bringing down the IUC for the telecom operators by a whopping 70% and is now looking towards a change in regulations again. However, this time Trai has floated a consultation paper which is titled "Review of Interconnection Usage Charges”, but it concerns more with the International Termination Charges (ITC) rather than the domestic termination charges, about which the debate has been going on in the industry since the last few months.
New Consultation Paper on International Termination Charges
To recall, as per the Trai notification on the matter, the last amendment in the case of IUC rules was made last year in 2018 and “this amendment brought down the termination charge for international incoming call to wireline and wireless networks to Rs.0.30 per minute w.e.f. 01.02.2018.” Since the amendment of these regulations, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been keeping a close check on the trends and patterns of International Long Distance (ILD) voice traffic in the country. Now, after a period of keeping the check, and tracking the records on the international calling front, Trai has come to the conclusion that it might have to review the International Termination Charges (ITC) from time to time.
Trai Notes Shift in Voice Flow in International Markets
Trai, in its release, also noted that while it has been continuously monitoring the telecommunications market and the trends in the incoming and outgoing ILD voice traffic, it has noted that the telecommunications industry scenario and in the Indian market and internationally is changing very fast. Trai has highlighted that the market composition is shifting from being a voice-centric market to a data-centric market. Trai has also said that the tariff offerings are changing from pricing of individual products like voice, data, messages etc. to bundled offers comprising of voice, data, and messages together. When it comes to international roaming, the observation by Trai has yielded results which point out that tariff packages for bundles comprising of a certain pre-fixed quantity of incoming and outgoing voice calls, data, and messages are becoming popular.
New Comments Invited on ITC Consultation Paper
Also, on analysing the voice traffic from the carrier route on the international channel, Trai has found that rate of decline of international incoming voice traffic through carrier route has reduced after the revision of ITC rates in 2018. With this purpose, Trai has floated the new consultation in the industry which reviews the regulations related to International Termination Charges (ITC). It is worth noting that the working of ITC and IUC are similar, where the originating carrier pays the other network provider to carry the calls. In the case of ITC, this cost is higher as the call is carried internationally and the rate is pegged at 30 paise per minute, instead of the measly 6 paise per minute, which is the rate for the domestic termination charges. Trai has invited comments on this paper, which will be open till December 9, 2019.