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Trai cuts termination charges on ISD calls; Reliance Jio happy, others not

Trai cuts termination charges on ISD calls; Reliance Jio happy, others not

After slashing the domestic interconnect charges, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today slashed the global interconnect charges from 53 paise per minute to 30 paise per minute, increasing the woes of Indian telecom operators.

These rates are paid by foreign carriers for terminating worldwide calls in India.

The latest rule from TRAI issued as part of the Telecommunication Interconnection Usage Charges (Fourteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2018, will benefit the operator which carries calls outside the country, officially referred to as the International Long Distance Operator (ILDO). Yet the move has been opposed by incumbent telecom operators, which say this will make the ratio between worldwide incoming calls and outgoing calls more skewed.

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Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular had, consistently, wanted the worldwide rate to be increased - to Re 1 initially and to Rs 3.50 later on the grounds that existing rates are very low for India when compared to global markets, which in turn hurt call volumes going out of India, and thus revenue. "It added that the move would address the issue of "serious security threat" that the grey route poses to national security, besides the leakage in revenue due to the country and its carriers". "Therefore, lowering of ITC to the cost level will facilitate shift of worldwide incoming traffic from OTT services to ILD (international long distance) carrier and curb the menace of grey market, which will be in the interest of all stakeholders including security agencies", Trai said, explaining its decision. "The loss to Indian telecom service providers on account of the reduced ITC.is expected to be ₹2,000 crore annually, and this will lead to a loss in revenue to the exchequer, from both licence fee and GST", said Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI.

The regulator's September 19 document on regulations on domestic charges had specified it would issue a separate regulation on the issue. During the same period, the regulator reduced the domestic interconnect charges to 14 paise per minute from 20 paise per minute.


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