The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today confirmed that it would take the right decision on Interconnect Usage Charges (IUC) before January 2020. For the unaware, Trai was all-set to remove the IUC on January 1, 2020, however, top telcos- Airtel and Vodafone Idea opposed the move saying that it will only benefit Reliance Jio and not them. Trai reduced the IUC to six paise per minute from 14 paise per minute back in 2017, and it even promised to implement Bill and Keep (BAK) regime with zero IUC on January 1. Trai was forced to have discussions on zero-IUC again as Airtel and Vodafone Idea will still incur charges for incoming calls from Reliance Jio.
Trai Wants to Take Right Decision on Interconnect Usage Charges
Interconnect Usage Charges or IUC is one of the most important topics in the telecom industry right now and Trai wants to provide a right decision on this matter. As everyone might be aware of, Trai was supposed to implement zero-IUC regime or BAK regime on January 1, 2020, which will entirely remove the interconnect charges between operators. Trai made this announcement back in 2017 itself, but now, telcos Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are opposing the move saying that they will still incur charges for incoming calls from the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio.
To solve the matter, Trai has conducted an open house discussion on Interconnect Usage Charges last month and it even issued a new consultation paper for the same. “We’ll take the right decision on IUC quickly before January 2020,” said Trai Chairman RS Sharma to ET Telecom.
The regular says it will provide the right decision before January 2020, meaning the decision will be out before December 31, 2019, itself. If Trai decides to remove IUC, then Reliance Jio will turn out to be the most beneficial.
Reliance Jio Urges Trai to Reduce IUC if Not for Entire Removal
While incumbent telcos Airtel and Vodafone Idea are against the zero-IUC regime, Reliance Jio is indeed going after Trai to implement the same as promised. Jio even urged that Trai should reduce the current six paise per minute IUC charges if it's not willing to implement the zero-IUC regime on January 1, 2020. We're expecting Trai to keep the same six paise per minute IUC charges for another couple of years from now as the telecom sector is already reeling. With the AGR setback, Vodafone Idea is actively looking for a government relief whereas Bharti Airtel may raise capital which will probably provide some relief to the telco.
Reliance Jio is very serious about the BAK or zero-IUC regime as telco even started charging from customers for the outgoing voice calls. Back in October, when Trai said it would relook into the IUC matter, Reliance Jio immediately introduced IUC Top-Up vouchers and started charging customers for every voice call they make to other networks like Airtel, BSNL, MTNL and Vodafone Idea.
Even after the introduction of revised tariff plans, Reliance Jio did not change the IUC Top-Ups and it's still charging the customers six paise per minute for non-Jio calls. On the brighter side, Reliance Jio is crediting 1GB of data voucher to customer's account for every Rs 10 consumed by them on non-Jio calls. Reliance Jio already confirmed that it would stop charging the customers once Trai introduces zero-IUC regime. It Trai reduces the IUC from six paise per minute, then Reliance Jio will also reduce the same charges.