What is interconnection usage charge and why does it matter for you?
These charges are paid by a telecom services provider whose subscriber makes a call to the service provider whose subscriber receives the call. IUCs (termination, origination and transit charges), directly impact the call tariff. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) terms interconnection as the “lifeline of telecommunications” as it allows subscribers of one network to seamlessly communicate with those of another network or access the services offered by other networks. Recently, TRAI came out with ‘Telecommunication Interconnection Usage Charges (Thirteenth Amendment) Regulations’ wherein it directed slashing mobile termination charges by 57% from 14 paise to 6 paise per minute from October 1, and completely doing away with these charges from January 1, 2020. The decision follows a prolonged battle between the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio and the top three telcos, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea. While the top operators had pitched for doubling the mobile termination charges to over 30 paise “to recover their cost,” the newer rival had suggested zero charges and shifting to the bill-and-keep regime, under which operators bill their own subscribers for outgoing calls and keep the revenue received. They do not pay any termination charges to each other.