Industry

Jio, Bharti spar again on IUC

Reliance Jio earlier said it was “compelled” to recover IUC charges of 6 paise per minute from customers.

Reliance Jio earlier said it was “compelled” to recover IUC charges of 6 paise per minute from customers.   | Photo Credit: K.K.Mustafah

Row follows TRAI deciding to review scrapping of charge

A fresh war of words has broken out between Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel over the former charging users for voice calls to other networks following TRAI’s decision to review the scrapping of interconnect usage charge from January 2020.

On Tuesday, Mathew Oommen, president, network, global strategy and service development, Reliance Jio, termed TRAI’s move as regressive, adding that it will “disincentivise technological progress” and harm consumer interest.

Reliance Jio had earlier said that it had been “compelled” to recover interconnection usage charges (IUC) of 6 paise per minute from customers. However, Bharti Airtel MD and CEO for India and South Asia Gopal Vittal on Tuesday said IUC had nothing to do with tariff.

IUC has nothing to do with tariff. It is a clearing house meant to do with cost of carrying calls. It is a bilateral thing between carriers. Over the last 20 years , IUC has always been absorbed in the cost of doing business,” Mr. Vittal said. He, however, added that the tariffs in the sector are “unsustainable” and need to rise.

IUC is levied by an operator for completing incoming calls from other networks. TRAI had earlier said that IUC will be brought down to zero from January 1, 2020, but has now released a consultation paper to see if there is a need to revise the implementation date.

Mr. Oommen said that the delay in implementation of zero IUC will act as an incentive for other telcos to stay away from new and more efficient technologies, adding that any regulatory intervention at this stage that envisages continuance of IUC will benefit the incumbents.

“Starting a fresh consultation process just three months before the date to implement the decision is an incentivisation programme to continue to keep 400 million customers on 2G networks without digital connectivity,” he said, stressing the concept of point of interconnect and IUC is related to 2G technology and hence, obsolete.

“Today, people talk about duress in the industry…why do you want to manage three different networks — 2G, 3G and 4G — as an operator. Why not the world of convergence have a single network? Why are we talking about points of interconnect in 2020…it is 2G technology.”

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 11:37:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/jio-bharti-spar-again-on-iuc/article29693777.ece

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