Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is set to quash all the claims against Reliance Jio’s voice calls offers, a senior official tipped ET. The OTT Telco operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Idea Cellular had earlier claimed that calls can’t be priced less than 14 paise.
TRAI will respond to the claim by this week, made by telcos to Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) and would most likely restate that Reliance Jio Infocomm’s free offers didn’t violate any rules; it may also underline that the interconnect usage charge of 14 paise per minute should not be taken as the floor price.
The official had stated the three OTT telcos (Airtel, Idea and Vodafone) were already pricing voice calls lower than 14 paise threshold, “Free night calling and bundled packs offering unlimited calls are all examples of incumbent telecom operators doing the same,” said the official, as cited on ET.
The operators have challenged the TRAI’s decision at the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal and the Delhi High Court, which allows the newcomer rival Reliance Jio to provide free voice and data services under its two consecutive promotional offers. The tribunal has ordered TRAI to revert by March end with its decision on the matter.
From 20 paise to 14 paise per minute – The claims against Reliance Jio
The regulator (TRAI) lowered the termination charge to 14 paise a minute from 20 paise in 2015, a move that’s been challenged in court by Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, the top three GSM carriers. As per a discussion paper on interconnect usage charges issued in October, TRAI had suggested lowering or scrapping away the call termination charges but the proposal was denounced by telcos and said to be biased.
The highest decision-making body in the Department of Telecommunications, Telecom Commission, had written to TRAI, stating that Jio’s promotional offers had affected the sector, and indicated a fall in revenue for the government in October-December quarter.
To this concern, TRAI said that the revenue slump was simply a function of competition in the industry and government’s revenue can’t be used as a measuring gauge to calibrate the health of telecom sector. The telecom regulating body also stated that benefits to consumers and other factors should also be considered.