1. Trai internet usage charge review: Bias or BSNL at centre of exercise?

Trai internet usage charge review: Bias or BSNL at centre of exercise?

Looking at the limited scope of the exercise to review the termination charge, it appears that the consultation paper is prompted by something to do with clearing the way for launch of the BSNL service mentioned in the paper or to introduce a new regime in a great hurry to help some sections of the telecom sector at the cost of others

By: | New Delhi | Updated: August 11, 2016 7:30 AM
There may be several other issues which are hanging fire for a long time and are awaiting resolution. Unfortunately, such issues don’t seem to be getting an equal amount of urgency to be reviewed in the consultation. (Reuters) There may be several other issues which are hanging fire for a long time and are awaiting resolution. Unfortunately, such issues don’t seem to be getting an equal amount of urgency to be reviewed in the consultation. (Reuters)

The timing of the current review of interconnect usage charge is being justified on the following pretext: “Generally, a comprehensive regulatory review exercise in Trai takes six to nine months’ time to complete and, hence, the present review exercise is being undertaken” However, unfortunately, this exercise is anything but
“exhaustive”.

The sudden spate of consultation papers and that too dealing with issues in piecemeal manner are beyond reasonable logic. I sometimes wonder whether the idea is to establish a record to come out with maximum number of consultation papers during a given regime. Subjects like net neutrality are being discussed in three different papers, differential pricing of content, free data, and net neutrality are the examples of multiplication of consultation papers. While one can certainly justify that these papers deal with distinct issues and but I am afraid I find it difficult to accept that logic.

Same is the case with the current exercise on IUC review. This issue is partly relevant in paper relating to internet telephony, but now a separate paper on interconnect usage charge is released, inter alia, touching upon the issues covered in the earlier paper as well.

Interconnection is not merely interconnection usage charge but it is an arrangement covering technical and commercial conditions relating to interconnection of networks. It covers several other issues around interconnection which impact effective interconnection between the parties.

The current exercise does not even make an attempt to review the transit charge and carriage charge? Moreover, it does not cover the issue relating to transiting of intra-circle traffic. Also, there is no review on points on interconnection, which begs the question as to why these points were not reviewed if the exercise
is exhaustive?

Why the calculation of port charges should not be brought in the scope of IUC exercise and its cost
considered for calculation of IUC charge?

There may be several other issues which are hanging fire for a long time and are awaiting resolution. Unfortunately, such issues don’t seem to be getting an equal amount of urgency to be reviewed in the consultation.

These issues do not find even a remote mention in the so called “exhaustive exercise” on interconnect. The reason given, therefore, for early review then makes one wonder that there is more to this situation than meets the eye. The ultimate objective of the exercise should be to come out with a comprehensive regulation covering all relevant aspects, accommodate technology innovations into the regime and ensure the growth of telecom sector while protecting consumer interests.

Looking at the limited scope of the exercise to review the termination charge, it appears that the consultation paper is prompted by something to do with clearing the way for launch of BSNL service mentioned in the consultation paper or to introduce a new regime in a great hurry to help some sections of the telecom sector at the cost of others.

These views should not not be seen as favouring any particular regime, i.e., BAK or cost based/cost oriented termination charge but as a limited and half-baked exercise.

The author is founder and CEO, Tathya Consulting
Views are personal

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  1. A
    Arindam Das
    Sep 7, 2016 at 11:30 am
    The consultation paper is not favouring BSNL, rather it is desperately trying to define termination charges for VoLTE calls. Mentioning BSNL's FMT is just a ping remark and has possibly been inserted to take the focus away from the fact that because of R-Jio's entry it has become extremely critical to define Termination Changes for VoLTE calls. Lets analyse the situation. The present IUC regime define all IUC charges for TDM calls which are metered on per minute. This means if R-Jio has to terminate billions of minutes of VoLTE traffic originating from its network to other networks which are 2G / 3G which are still on TDM, they would not only have to convert the calls to TDM but also pay 14 paisa per minute as MTC to inbent operators. And the moment they do so, their entire business model of allowing free unlimited voice calls, falls flat. There is no way they can keep paying MTC from their pocket to other operators. This consultation paper has been issued solely for the purpose of defining TC for VoLTE in an excruciating hurry so that R-Jio can survive with its below-cost, cartelizing tariff plans.
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