Reliance Jio is urging the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to either implement zero-IUC or reduce the current Interconnection Usage Charges(IUC) charges, currently at 6 paise per minute.
The telecom regulator conducted an open house discussion on 'Review of Interconnection Usage Charges" on November 15.
During the discussion, Mahendra Nahata, Director at Reliance Jio Infocomm stressed on implementing the zero-IUC regime.
He argued that since voice calling symmetry between the telecom companies has been achieved, there are no reasons to delay it.
Nahata said that in case TRAI does not favour implementation of BAK regime from January 2020 then at least interconnect usage charges currently at 6 paise should be brought down.
"When you had implemented 6 paise charge, 4G traffic was one per cent. Today that traffic is much higher so the costs must have come down," he said.
In favour of implementing the BAK regime, Nahata said that the ratio of outgoing and incoming calling on the Jio network has come at par with other operators. In April 2017, Jio had 90 percent outgoing and 10 percent incoming voice calls. Hence, TRAI had given a deadline of December 31, 2019, for applying the BAK regime.
"The reason of traffic asymmetry is no longer there, for delaying the zero termination charge from January 1, 2020," Nahata added.
On the other hand, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone said that the 6 paise IUC should stay for at least the next three years.
RS Sharma, the chairman of TRAI said that the regulator will release the new framework regarding the IUC charges soon. Under the zero IUC charges, the bill and keep regime (BAK) was initially scheduled to be implemented from January 1, 2020.
Therefore, a consultation paper on the discussion should be released over the next few weeks but a timeline has not been given by TRAI chairman, RS Sharma.
Ravi Gandhi, the chief regulatory officer of Bharti Airtel, dismissed the argument by saying that one operator should not end up subsidising the other.
Nahata questioned data being shown by telecom operators and alleged that the subscriber traffic is being diverted to 2G, 3G network to show cost of voice data is high.
Airtel and Vodafone denied the allegations.
(With inputs from PTI.)Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust, which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.