Airtel, Idea, Vodafone push for doubling mobile call termination charge

Telecoms

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular on Tuesday sought doubling of interconnection usage charge (IUC)
  • Vodafone has also projected costs more than double the current level
  • IUC is one of the key input for mobile rates

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular on Tuesday sought doubling of interconnection usage charge (IUC), a key input for mobile rates, saying that incoming calls to their networks cost 30 paise per minute to complete.

Another incumbent, Vodafone, projected the cost at 34 paise, more than double the current level.

Any change in IUC has a direct impact on mobile call rates as the charge is taken into account while setting telecom tariffs.

The officials of the incumbent operators reiterated the demand for hike in the charge at a workshop on IUC review organised by telecom regulator Trai.

“Airtel has said their cost of carrying incoming call is 30 paise and hence IUC should be raised so that they are able to recover their cost,” an official, who did not wish to be identified, told PTI on the sidelines of the workshop.

Telecom operators get the interconnection charge for every incoming calls from networks of other operator. It is included in call rates paid by mobile subscribers.

The IUC is fixed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). At present IUC of 14 paise per minute is levied on every incoming calls.

Vodafone has said cost of carrying incoming calls on its network is 30 paise without taking into account the licence fee and 34 paise after including it, said an official.

According to an industry source, who did not wish to be named, Idea Cellular has said that cost of carrying incoming call on its network is around 30 paise and the company is unable to recover its basic cost at present IUC rates.

The Aditya Birla group firm demanded that IUC should be raised so that telecom operators are able to recover cost of carrying load of incoming calls from other networks.
Trai in its affidavit filed before Supreme Court in 2011 had said that telecom operators should be given time till 2014 to move to bill and keep regime. Under this, operators only keep record of incoming calls on their network but don’t raise any demand from other operators.

Reliance Jio, the latest entrant into the mobile services market, is yet to present its case at the workshop.

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