Largest telecom operator Airtel has written to the telecom regulator that the claims by Reliance Jio that incumbent operators have benefitted by almost Rs 1 lakh crore in the last five years due to non-implementation of a TRAI report on interconnect usage charges were misleading and incorrect
Airtel said that instead of gains, the operator had made losses due to lower interconnection charges.
“In last 5 years, there has been significant loss to Airtel as the termination charges have been well below the cost of 30-35 paise/minute,” Airtel said in a letter to TRAI.
Countering RJio’s claims Airtel said that during the course of a workshop, Reliance Jio presented a slide, which claimed that the incumbent operators have benefited by almost Rs 1 lakh crore in the last five years alone due to non-implementation of the TRAI report of 2011.
“Not only are the facts presented by Reliance Jio grossly incorrect but they seem to have been misrepresented with the specific purpose of maligning other operators and misleading TRAI and the public at large,” Airtel said.
“While the source of information has not been indicated by Reliance Jio, the quantum of IUC received by Airtel has been indicated at gross level, even the gross termination charges indicated to have been received by Airtel are much higher than what has been actually received by Airtel,” it added.
Airtel said that it has only received net IUC of Rs 7,795 crore in last five years. Even at present value the net IUC received stands at Rs 9,417 crore.
“Airtel has, therefore, incurred a loss of 10-16 paise/ minute on an ongoing basis as the termination charges have been 20 paise/ minute from FY 2012-13 to FY 2014-15 and 14 paise/ minute from FY 2015-16,” the operator said.
“It is shocking that such misrepresentation of facts has been made on the floor of TRAI and an attempt has been made to mislead members present during the workshop,” it added.
“This is not the first time that Reliance Jio has adopted such tactics. Even during its representation to the IMG, Reliance Jio had come up with misleading claims that existing operators have not infused enough equity into their operations and instead taken on debt. The truth is completely different though,” Airtel said.
TRAI is set to give its final ruling on the new interconnection charges. While Airtel wants the rates to be kept at current levels, RJio has pushed for a drastic reduction.
Interconnection charges are fee paid by the operator on whose network the call originates to the operator on whose network the call ends. Under the existing market scenario, RJio is a net payer of the charges to incumbent operators.