Major telcos push for doubling mobile call termination charge

Major telcos push for doubling mobile call termination charge

Major telcos push for doubling mobile call termination charge

Incumbent operators -- Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular -- today sought doubling of interconnection usage charge (IUC), a key input for mobile tariffs, saying that terminating incoming calls on their networks costs 30-35 paise per minute.

Any change in IUC has a direct impact on mobile call rates as the charge is taken into account while setting telecom tariffs. The new entrant Reliance Jio, however, batted for levying no charge on incoming calls.

"Today all the major operator participated. Some operator were of the view that we should go to bill and keep, other asked for reducing it, some said keep it constant at current level. Some others said that it should be increased," TRAI Chairman RS Sharma told reporters after a day long workshop meeting with telecom operators.

The IUC is fixed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. At present IUC of 14 paise per minute is levied on every domestic incoming calls by the telecom operator receiving it.

When asked if telecom operators suggested increasing mobile termination rate in the range of 30-35 paise from 14 paise levels at present, Sharma responded affirmatively without naming any particular operator.

He said there are other charges that are part of IUC but 14 paise charge for handling domestic calls dominated the discussion during the workshop because of the high volume of calls that are subjected to these charges.

He did not give any timeframe for firming up the IUC recommendations but said they will be finalised soon.

"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," said an industry source who did not want to be identified.

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

According to the source, Idea Cellular has said that cost of carrying incoming call on its network is around 30 paise as per methodology used by Trai, while as per its own calculation the cost is 35 paise per minute.

The company stated that it is unable to recover its basic cost at the current 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 a Supreme Court affidavit 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.

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