Telecom regulator Trai on Wednesday invited public views to review the January 1, 2020 deadline for service providers to end interconnect usage charges. A telecom operator pays for connecting calls of its subscribers to the company on whose network a call is made.
Currently, an operator is required to pay 0.06 paisa per minute as mobile call termination charges, called interconnect usage charges (IUC), which is proposed to be made nil from January 1, 2020. Telecom operators with large number of subscribers gain from IUC as most of the calls are made within their network while net payout for service providers with lower subscriber base is higher.
At present, Reliance Jio leads mobile market with 339.7 million subscribers followed by Bharti Airtel with 328 million customers. Vodafone Idea in July reported decline in customer base to 320 million in the first quarter of 2019-20. BSNL has mobile customer base of 116 million. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said it has seen rapid adoption of modern technology in the country's mobile networks since the time it lowered ICU from 14 paise to 0.06 paise from October 1, 2017 onwards.
"Though the imbalance in the inter-operator off-net traffic is reducing over a period, it still exists," Trai said. The regulator said it has proposed a bill and keep (BAK) regime in which no operator raises bill for IUC, after analysing that the regime will reduce the inter-operator off-net traffic imbalance. Trai said it has received representations from some interested parties about revision of the existing IUC regime.
The regulator has sought public views on whether there is a need "to revise the applicable date for BAK regime i.e. zero mobile termination charge, from January 1, 2020". Last date for comments on the paper is October 18 and for counter comment it is November 1, 2019.