Delhi / Airtel favours keeping interconnect usage charge until 2022

The New Indian Express : Oct 22, 2019, 05:51 PM

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has favoured keeping the interconnect usage charge (IUC) system for incoming calls originating from other networks until 2022, even as rival Reliance Jio has vehemently protested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) move to review the current deadline of January 2020 for the regime.

TRAI had earlier proposed to move from the current IUC regime to the BAK (bill and keep), regime where no operator will charge for mobile call transmission, from January 1, 2020. The current TRAI-set IUC cost is six paise per minute.

“There is a dire need to move the applicable date for BAK (bill and keep) regime by at least 3 years,” Airtel said in its submission to TRAI, following RJio’s earlier letter arguing the opposite.

Any change in implementation of original timeline of January 1, 2020, will end the free voice call regime and is likely to increase tariffs which is against consumer interest, Jio had claimed even as it told customers it would levy a six paise per minute charge on calls made to non-Jio numbers. IUC has been largely considered an applicable system for older 2G and 3G networks, but negligible in case of VoLTE which uses 4G networks to make voice calls.

Airtel, however, has said that it has invested about Rs 40,000 crore into the network in the last two years alone, but 67 per cent subscribers on its network continue to use non-4G devices.