Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has announced its decision to slash the Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) to 6 paise a minute from the existing rate 14 paise a minute applicable from October 1, 2017. TRAI after having broad based consultations with the telecom industry said that there would not be any IUC charges from January 1, 2020. Mobile tariffs are expected to fall in case operators pass on the benefits of reduced IUC charges to customers. The regulatory authority has asked the telecom operators to switch from cost based domestic termination charges regime to more efficient technology like ‘Bill and Keep regime’.
However, Major industry players have equivocally expressed their gross disappointment over the decision of TRAI and did not deny for the possibility of moving to the courts against the order. In a response to Bureaucracy Today, Bharti Airtel, the leading telecom player of India, stated that the suggested IUC rate which has been arrived at in a completely non-transparent fashion would benefits only one operator which enjoys a huge traffic asymmetry in its favour Indicating that the decision is likely to make windfall gains for Reliance Jio, the new entrant in the market.
The spokesperson of Vodafone, another big telecom operator, when approached by Bureaucracy Today also responded with disappointment terming it regressive regulatory order. He said that the move will place additional financial burden to telecom industry which was already undergoing a major financial stress. He also stated that the decision would have serious consequences for investment in rural coverage, undermining the Government's vision of Digital India.