In the unending saga of attack and counter-attacks, Reliance Jio today branded its arch-rival Airtel with a new tagline that the Mittal company is creating a ‘smokescreen to hide its ill-gotten profits and to support its false pretence of loss under the existing IUC regime and is actually is recovering its IUC pay-outs from the premiumly charged off-net calls.
Hitting out at Airtel which recently shot off a letter to TRAI countering Jio's points that the incumbents made huge profits out of the current IUC rates, the Mukesh Ambani company said Äirtel has made malicious representation against Jio analysis on IUC payments received by incumbents regarding RJIL's submissions on the excess IUC recovery made by Airtel in the last five years.
It goes on to say "This misrepresentation of facts and wrong interpretation of data has been carried out purposefully to create a smoke-screen to hide its ill-gotten profitsand to support its false pretense of loss under the existing IUC regime".
Jio states “Airtel has deliberately ignored the fact that its pay-out towards IUC is recovered by it from its customers as evident from its retail voice tariffs. Airtel's outgoing tariffs for off-net calls clearly shows a premium that it charges from its customers to compensate for the IUC that it would need to pay to other operators. It does not charge the same amount for on-net calls. Therefore, there cannot be any basis for Airtel to show net IUC receipt having already recovered its IUC expense from customers,” Reliance Jio said in the letter dated 11 September.
Reliance Jio was responding to an Airtel letter to the telecom regulator sent last week, which challenged Reliance Jio’s calculations that suggested incumbents generated more than Rs1 trillion through interconnection usage charges (IUC). Airtel wrote to the Trai that saying Reliance Jio was continuously trying to distort facts at various platforms to “show other operators in bad light and create policy bias in its favour”.
In the letter, Airtel had said it has not made any gain on account of IUC—as alleged by Reliance Jio—and has instead incurred loss of Rs6,800 crore in the last five years.
“Airtel’s outgoing tariffs for off-net calls clearly shows a premium that it charges from its customers to compensate for the IUC that it would need to pay to other operators. It does not charge the same amount for on-net calls.
The dispute is interconnection usage charges, paid by telecom firm which originates the call, to the one which terminates the call, currently set at 14 paise. Older telecom firms want it to be raised to at least 30 paise, while new entrant Reliance Jio wants it cut to zero. Reliance Jio said in July that India’s top three telecom firms earned Rs1.04 trillion in the past five years by not implementing a 2011 regulatory road map to cut IUC to zero.
Reliance Jio has requested Trai to take appropriate action against Airtel “for such mischievous and frivolous submissions made well post the time allocated for additional submissions by the Authority during the open house discussions”.