Broadband India Forum backs Jio, asks Trai to implement 'zero termination charge’ regime from 2020

BIF’s views are in conflict with Airtel, which has urged Trai to postpone the scrapping of IUC by at least 3 years from the January deadline, on grounds that traffic symmetry between networks had not been achieved.

KOLKATA: The Broadband India Forum has backed Reliance Jio’s views, saying any deferment of the BAK (Bill and Keep) or `zero termination charge’ regime by the telecom regulator beyond the planned January 2020 deadline would be a retrograde step and hurt consumers.

“There’s absolutely no need to revise the applicable date for BAK, and it should be firmly held, as earlier scheduled by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), to be effective January 1, 2020, as any revision would be a retrograde step and seriously harm the interests of consumers and the nation in several ways,” BIF said in a media statement Monday.

BIF’s views are in conflict with Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel, which has urged Trai to postpone the scrapping of interconnection usage charges (IUC) by at least three years from the planned January deadline, on grounds that traffic symmetry between networks had not been achieved and that over 400 million mobile users continued to use 2G networks.


Broadband India Forum president T V Ramachandran, however, said “call termination is universally accepted to be a monopoly market, (and) BAK offers a means of addressing this issue of the market power of terminating networks since in this regime, the networks have to recover from their own consumers rather than from their interconnecting operators”.

He said that “post-lowering of interconnect usage charges (IUC) to 6 paise a minute by Trai two years ago “there’s been an improvement in affordability, with the subscriber’s average outgo per minute dropping from 23 paise a minute in September 2017 to 13 paise a minute in March ’2019”.

BIF’s observations closely echo those of the Mukesh Ambani-led Jio, which has opposed any move to defer the zero-IUC regime. In its submission, Jio has said Trai’s consultation paper on deferring BAK was created to incentivise Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, which are yet to fully upgrade their networks to 4G standards, adding that any deferment of the regime would adversely impact the Trai and the government’s credibility, besides reducing investor confidence in the telecom industry and discouraging foreign and domestic investment.
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IUC is paid by call-originating telcos to the destination network. Jio is currently a net payer of IUC, while Airtel and Vodafone Idea are net recipients, underlining the reasons for their respective stands.
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