Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has alleged that review of call connect charges by Trai “sabotages” the Prime Minister’s vision for Digital India, and will hit not only the regulator’s credibility but also investor confidence as the move protects vested interests of some old operators.
Continuing its relentless attack on the regulator and old operators over the contentious IUC (interconnect usage charge) issue that has polarised the industry, Jio alleged that Trai’s move is arbitrary, bad in law, unwarranted, and anti-poor.
Any change in implementation of original timeline of January 1, 2020 will end the free voice regime and is likely to increase tariffs which is against consumer interest, Jio claimed.
Typically, a telecom operator pays for completing calls made by its subscribers to a rival network. This is done by paying the rival network an interconnect usage charge, which currently is 6 paise per minute.
Trai’s move to reopen the deadline for ending charges for terminating calls on rival networks beyond January 2020 had forced Jio to levy a 6 paisa per minute charge on its users recently, effectively ending its free call regime.
Submitting its official response to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the IUC matter, Jio alleged that “certain incumbent telcos” want their large body of 2G customers to forever remain digitally disempowered and deprived of the fruits of the digital revolution. Trai’s consultation paper “protects and perpetuates the vested interests” of such players, it added.
Jio accused certain old operators of exploiting their 2G customers by charging “extortionist rates” for voice calls, which are offered free to all Jio’s 4G-only customers.