Jio asks TRAI to reject COAI views on IUC

Reliance Jio annual reportIndia 4G operator Reliance Jio has written to the Indian telecom regulator TRAI slamming Cellular Operators’ Association of India’s (COAI) views on interconnection usage charges (IUC) when two of its members differed on the matter.

Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio, in a letter dated July 26, said: “A plain reading of the said letter reveals COAI’s deliberate and wilful intent to subvert the interconnection usage charges consultation process at the behest of the incumbent dominant operators, that is, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.”

Earlier, Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal has urged TRAI to reject the ‘Bill and Keep’ (BAK) method and said it should continue with the IUC regime.

Sunil Mittal said that the current IUC at 14 paisa is already well below cost and it will be in fitness of things that while taking a final decision, the Authority (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India – TRAI) upholds the principle of compensation of work done by each operator and the IUC is set at costs discovered through a fair and transparent mechanism.

The COAI had written the letter on July 22, when two of its members — Jio and Aircel — differed in their views from incumbent dominant operators.

Reliance Jio, in its letter, said COAI’s views in its letter are against the “interests of consumers, anti-competitive and hinder the adoption of newer technology”.

Reliance Jio said that COAI is misleading the Authority and other stakeholders by twisting and giving different colors to the facts, IANS reports.

Jio said COAI is lobbying for top telecom operators to delay the consultation process for review of IUC charges and befuddle TRAI in reaching a logical conclusion. COAI wants these operators to enjoy windfall subsidy through IUC at the cost of consumers and other / new operators.

Sunil Mittal said at present, IUC for a call from India to the US is about 1.2 cents, to Europe about 3-30 cents, to Middle East about 10-14 cents. Neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, charge between 2-13 cents.

Similarly, when the calls come into India, the TRAI has set an IUC to be paid to the mobile operators at 53 paisa and in turn the Indian international operator charges approximately 1 cent as IUC for the incoming calls on their network.