Interconnect usage charges: Reliance Jio punches holes in Airtel’s no-gain stand

| | Updated on: Sep 11, 2017




Says TRAI should take action against incumbent operator for misleading submission

Reliance Jio has told the telecom regulator that claims by Bharti Airtel on gains made on interconnect usage charges (IUC) were misplaced and devoid of any fact and logic.

“While Airtel has repeatedly mentioned that RJIL had made purposeful erroneous representation of facts, it can be clearly seen that it is Airtel which is trying to confuse the matter by submitting distorted facts in order to influence the current IUC consultation process in its favour. Airtel, in its submission, has deliberately ignored the fact that its pay-out towards IUC is recovered by it from its customers, as evident from its retail voice,” RJio said in a letter to TRAI.

Airtel’s stance

Airtel had earlier told the telecom regulator that the claims by Reliance Jio that incumbent operators have benefited by almost ₹1 lakh crore in the last five years due to non-implementation of a TRAI report on interconnection charges was misleading.

Airtel had said that instead of gains, the operator had made losses due to lower interconnection charges. “In last 5 years, there has been significant loss to Airtel as the termination charges have been well below the cost of 30-35 paisa/ min,” Airtel said in a letter to TRAI.

In response, RJio said: “It is obvious that this misrepresentation of facts and wrong interpretation of data have been carried out purposefully to create a smoke-screen to hide its ill-gotten profits and to support its false pretense of loss under the existing IUC regime.”

“Airtel has purposefully endeavoured to confuse the issue by adjusting this excess recovery against its IUC pay-out of around ₹24,750 crore, which Airtel has already recovered as part of tariff from its subscribers,” RJio said.

“Without prejudice to RJIL’s stand that Airtel’s computation of termination cost as above, is artificial and inflated, it is submitted that based on Airtel’s own computation, it is evident that most of the tariff plans of a dominant operator i.e. Airtel, are predatory and in blatant and contumacious contravention of the provisions contained in the Telecommunications Tariff Order, 1999.

“RJIL has already made detailed representations on this matter to the Authority and we urge the Authority to take immediate action on the same,” Reliance Jio said.

“We request that the Authority may take appropriate action against Airtel for such mischievous and frivolous submissions made well post the time allocated for additional submissions by the Authority during the open house discussions,” the operator added.

Final ruling soon

The war of letters comes even as TRAI is set to give its final ruling on the new IUC charges. While Airtel wants the rates to be kept at current levels, RJio has pushed for a drastic reduction.

Interconnection charges are fee paid by the operator on whose network the call originates to the operator on whose network the call ends. Under the existing market scenario, RJio is a net payer of the charges to incumbent operators.

Published on January 10, 2018

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