Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal today asked telecom regulator Trai to set call connect charges at costs discovered through a fair and transparent mechanism, upholding the principle of compensation of work done by each operator. In a letter to Trai Chairman R S Sharma, Mittal said that the current Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) at 14 paisa is already “well below cost”. “…and it will be in fitness of things that while taking a final decision, the Authority upholds the principle of compensation of work done by each operator and the IUC is set at costs discovered through a fair and transparent mechanism,” he added. Mittal asserted that IUC has no relation to customer tariff and customers are enjoying free or affordable calls is a testimony that the current IUC regime is not coming in the way of affordable tariffs.
“At the same time, it is ensuring investments in networks continue to be made by all operators and customer calls are satisfactorily completed,” he said. Mittal said BAK should be rejected and India should not be subjected to a regime which is alien to the mobile industry the world over. Under the `Bill and Keep’ or BAK regime, the operators only keep record of incoming calls on their network but don’t raise any demand from other operators. ” I am, therefore, at a loss as to why TRAI should be considering a Bill and Keep (BAK) regime in India as one of the options and break away from the global well-established practice, while at the same time, not disturbing the settled IUC on international calls,” he said.
He also stated that while a debate, based on both “information and misinformation” is taking centrestage, “I feel it necessary to add my views in the hope for a fair and reasonable outcome of the current IUC process”. IUC is a time tested international practice, Mittal said adding the regulators from the most advanced countries to the emerging ones have all ensured that the concept of compensating operators to the investments and the work done by each one of them is adhered to. He added “TRAI not even debating the IUC issue, therefore, confirms the authority’s acceptance to the principle that IUC is indeed a settled global practice built on fair and equitable settlements for work done by each operator for carrying each other’s calls”.