Top telecom operators and newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm continued to spar, this time on interconnect usage charge (IUC), with one side demanding a review be put off to next year — especially as the matter is before court — and the other calling for IUC to be scrapped.
In responses to the regulator's consultation paper on IUC, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, along with the association representing GSM players, asked for the calling-party-pays (CPP) rule to continue, while Jio suggested following bill-and-keep model, bringing the two parties at loggerheads again after previously battling over issues of call drops and data services pricing.
Under CPP, which is currently followed in India, a telco on whose network a call originates pays a usage charge to the operator of the network on which the call terminates. Under the bill-and-keep system Jio has proposed, the carrier on whose network the call originates, and who bills the user, keeps the money.
"Pragmatic policy changes should continue by reducing IUC to zero, which is the need of the hour," Jio said in its submissions to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Tuesday. "Perhaps one reason for legacy networks to continue and the fact that none of the existing big operators have invested in next generation networks is a pointer to the fact that regulation should immediately move to bill-and-keep," it added, taking a dig at the big three who want the existing model to continue.
Trai has already recognised the need to move to the bill-and-keep regime, as early as in 2011, in a report filed in the Supreme Court, Jio noted. Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea differed from Jio's views, saying several other issues were also up for consultation and those should be addressed prior to debating on IUC, as final outcomes may have a significant direct impact on cost structures, changes in technology and other market dynamics. They also want a cost-based termination charge, taking into account expenses they had incurred to set up network.