Trai set to reject telcos’ plea for higher fee from Reliance Jio


Telecom regulator Trai has decided to reject the demand of incumbent mobile operators such as Bharti AirtelBSE -1.23 %, Vodafone and Idea Cellular for an increase in the fee that they charge from Reliance Jio to terminate its calls on their networks

The regulator has also asked the incumbent operators to provide “requisite number” of interconnect points to Jio “at the earliest” and ensure that consumers are not put at an inconvenience due to lack of connectivity, sources told TOI.

“The operators, including Jio, have submitted call details and we are analysing them threadbare to arrive at a solution at the earliest.”

The move will be a shot in the arm for Reliance Jio, which has been battling poor services in the absence of adequate number of interconnection points that are required to connect outgoing or incoming calls on a mobile network.

Existing operators are demanding higher termination charges than mandated 14 paise per minute fee for providing additional interconnection points to compensate for the “financial burden” due to “tsunami” of calls emanating from Jio’s network, led by its offer of free outgoing calls.
Trai, however, does not agree with the demand which was made in a meeting that the regulator held with telecom service providers on Friday.

“We do not find any merit in the demand. The call termination charge cannot be related only to the intensity and number of calls and thus there is no logic in such a request,” the sources said.

The call termination charges are governed by the interconnect usage charge (IUC) regulation issued by Trai, which has the sole authority to make changes or revisions. It has floated a consultation paper on the matter, though this has proven to be controversial as existing operators complained to the Prime Minister’s Office, questioning Trai’s move to review charges at the time of Jio’s launch.

The sources said IUC rates have been coming down over the last many years, especially with increase in call traffic flow. They were last revised with effect from March 2015 where the regulator fixed 14 paise per minute for wireless to wireless connectivity, while reducing it to zero for any domestic call termination involving wireline landline networks.
Trai sources said even if the outgoing traffic from Jio is higher, the operator has been paying higher termination charges. “The economies of scale kick in here and thus there is no question of any losses,” a source said.

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