The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to continue interconnection usage charges (IUC) for one more year till January 1, 2021. This means the callers will have to pay 6 paise per minute as interconnect charges till December 31, 2020.
"On the basis of comments received from stakeholders in writing and during the open house discussion, and its own analysis, the Authority has prescribed the revised date of applicability of Bill and Keep (BAK) regime, i.e. zero termination charges in respect of wireless to wireless domestic calls, with effect from January 1, 2021," the telecom regulator said in a statement on Tuesday.
IUC are termination charges paid by a telecom service provider for a call originating on its network and ending on a different operator's network. These charges will remain at 6 paise per minute till December 31, 2020, TRAI clarified in its statement.
From January 1, 2021, onwards the termination charge for wireless to wireless domestic calls shall be zero, TRAI added.
Earlier, the telecom regulator was expected to scrap IUC charges by December 31, 2019. This system would have been replaced by Bill and Keep (BAK) regime which allows two telecom operators to terminate calls from each other's network without any charge.
Doing away with IUC would have resulted in more outgoing calls to a network than incoming ones. As of now, Airtel and Vodafone Idea earn a significant portion of their revenues from IUC and had opposed scrapping it. Reliance Jio, which recently started charging IUC for off-net calls, had advocated doing away with the regime.
TRAI had issued a consultation paper for review of IUC on September 18, 2019, to seek stakeholders' opinion on changing the date for BAK regime. Stakeholders were asked to submit written comments by October 18, 2019 and counter-comments by November 1, 2019. An open house discussion was held on November 15, 2019 to discuss the issues with all stakeholders.