Reliance Jio alleges rivals showing wirelines as mobile numbers for IUC rip-off

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New Delhi | Published: October 17, 2019 3:59:02 AM

The reason behind Trai’s rethink on moving to a zero rate regime is that traffic imbalance, though reduced from pre-September 2017 days, still exists.

Reliance Jio, Reliance Jio review, mukesh ambani, isha ambani, anant ambani, reliance jio 2G, reliance 4G, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India , reliance jio Trai, interconnect usage charges, ius, vodafone, airtel, ideaJio said in such cases, even though the calling party is dialling the mobile number, all such calls are actually terminating on the fixed lines without ever touching the radio access network of the terminating operator.

Amid the ongoing war of words over interconnect usage charges (IUC) among telcos, Reliance Jio has now alleged that the incumbent operators are fraudulently showing wireline numbers as mobile numbers to illegally extract 6 paise termination charge from it.

For perspective, the IUC for mobile to mobile calls are 6 paise per minute, but if the calls are terminating on landlines, the rate is zero. In a letter to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Jio has said the operators including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and BSNL, have implemented a process under which various enterprises are offered mobile numbers as their customer care or helpline numbers like in case of 8888888888 by Just Dial and 9313931393 by Oyo.

“In all these cases, the mobile number is used just as a virtual number for routing all such calls to respective call centre set-ups of these organisations operating on wire-line PRIs with hunting facilities,” Jio said in the letter, a copy of which has been seen by the Financial Express.

Jio said in such cases, even though the calling party is dialling the mobile number, all such calls are actually terminating on the fixed lines without ever touching the radio access network of the terminating operator. “Thus, the underlying wireline numbers are being deliberately and fraudulently masqueraded with the published mobile numbers by the incumbent operators,” Jio alleged.

A query sent to Vodafone Idea in this regard remained unanswered at the time of going to press while Airtel termed it as an attempt to misguide Trai in the run-up to the consultation on IUC.

“Enterprise customers referred to by Jio transfer their call to their unique number to a fixed line or another mobile number as this is permitted by the DoT. There is no loss to originating operator as the customer always dials a mobile and not a fixed line number,” an Airtel spokesperson said.

Jio said masquerading the wireline number with mobile numbers is a case of “deliberate and fraudulent attempt made by incumbent operators to illegally extract” mobile termination charge of 6 paise per minute from originating operator, whereas in reality the call is getting terminated on wireline network.

Further, it added, in view of the nature of the end use all such numbers should have been provided either toll free numbers or universal numbers like 1800 or 1860 series. As per agreements signed by Jio with incumbent operators, for calls on such series of numbers it was set to receive in the range of `0.36 per minute to `0.52 per minute from the terminating operators.

“Thus, it is established beyond any doubt that, by this fraudulent operations run by the incumbent operators, Reliance Jio is not only made to pay termination charge of `0.06/min instead of zero charge, but is also denied the revenue up to `0.52/min for such calls,” the operator added.

Jio has shared a list of hundreds of such numbers having cumulative usage more than 24 hours in a day, which otherwise should not be possible for any legitimate use of mobile numbers.

Jio said such illegal, fraudulent and cheating practice has resulted in millions of minutes originating on its network getting considered as mobile terminating minutes instead of wireline termination, causing loss in hundreds of crores to it. Also, it is giving undue enrichment to incumbent operators to influence Trai on the apparent traffic asymmetry, which is the only reason cited by the Authority to review the IUC Regulations.

In its consultation paper issued on September 18, Trai had said, “While revisiting the issue, based on the actual developments during the last two years, it needs to be decided as to whether the date 1.1.2020, earlier fixed for implementing BAK regime (zero termination charge), through IUC Regulations 2017, still holds or it requires reconsideration”.

The reason behind Trai’s rethink on moving to a zero rate regime is that traffic imbalance, though reduced from pre-September 2017 days, still exists.

According to figures shared by Trai, Bharti’s incoming calls (from other networks) stands at 54.70% compared to 45.30% of outgoing calls. Jio’s incoming calls stand at 35.75% and outgoing at 64.25%, while for Vodafone Idea incoming calls are 59.30% and outgoing at 40.70%. Since termination charges are paid on the basis of outgoing calls, it can be seen that Jio has the lowest percentage of such calls so its outgo on termination is the highest.

It is because of this imbalance that the incumbents are opposed to any move by Trai to reduce the termination charges to zero from January.

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