Reliance Jio Infocomm and India’s top three telecom operators exchanged sharp words at an open house held by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Thursday to discuss its consultation paper on interconnect usage charges, where they sparred over the implications for services in rural areas. Jio wants the 14 paise per minute charge to be scrapped and said it would provide 99% coverage in the country by year-end even if the IUC is dropped.
Rivals including Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea CellularBSE -3.11 % backed an increase in IUC to 30-35 paise a minute. AirtelBSE -2.05 % argued that telecom infrastructure in rural areas depends largely on revenue from incoming calls and lowering or removing such charges would hamper services. Trai Chairman RS Sharma said the regulator will issue its recommendations on the controversial issue shortly.
Jio’s views on scrapping IUC were backed by several members of Parliament, a consumer watchdog and Reliance Communications. “When Trai has made an assurance to Supreme Court long ago, why is it not honouring that it would be made free? Why charge 14 paise?