4. CLEAR CONNECTION
The termination charge for wireless to wireless domestic calls has been zeroed from January 1, 2021 onwards. Until now operators paid Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) of 6 paise per minute on mobile calls.
INTERCONNECTION USAGE CHARGES:
- Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) is a charge paid by the Telecommunication service provider (TSP), whose subscriber makes a call, to the Telecommunication Service Provider, whose subscriber receives the call.
- It is the cost that a mobile operator pays to another operator for carrying through/terminating a call.
- In India, IUC is set by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI).
- TRAI has introduced an arrangement called bill and keep, which does away with the IUC.
- The measure was delayed by the regulator – TRAI due to concerns that not all operators were ready, and the shift to more efficient 4G networks and compatible subscriber handsets was slower than anticipated.
- The end of IUC creates a new era in which these companies can focus on upgrading their networks and service.
- For the subscriber, other than those who had to pay higher access tariffs on one wireless network due to the IUC system, the latest measure may not carry a significant impact, since providers sold unlimited call packs even earlier.
- With this change, the imbalance has reduced.
CHALLENGES IN THE TELECOM SECTOR AND WAY FORWARD:
- India’s high-density telecom market is poised for further growth as it awaits expansion through 5G and Internet-connected devices.
- As the Economic Survey of 2019-20 pointed out, intense competition has reduced the number of private players.
- Public sector operators BSNL and MTNL still face a challenge.
- Their future must be clarified early, with efforts to improve their technological capabilities and service levels.
- The end of the IUC should facilitate an expansion of high-capacity networks, going beyond 2G and 3G that some telcos continue to use.
- For TRAI, which has stressed the importance of consumer welfare through adequate choice, affordable tariff and quality service, it is important to deal cautiously on claims made on behalf of the sector, that higher tariffs alone can ensure the health of telecoms.
- India is a mass market for voice and data services that fuel the digital economy.
- On the consumer side, helping more people migrate to 4G services quickly through affordable handsets will help telcos put their infrastructure to better use.
- Now that the need to monitor call termination data and make IUC payments no longer exists and spectrum auction is scheduled in 2021, the focus must shift to giving the users a better deal — as reliable call quality and competitive tariffs.