The telecom regulator’s discussion paper seeking views on deferring implementation of the zero-IUC regime that was proclaimed as bad in law and anti-poor has been deplored by Reliance Jio Infocomm. The Mukesh Ambani-owned telco during the submissions to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday said that any delay of the implementation of BAK (bill and keep) or zero termination charge regime would adversely impact the credibility of Trai and the government, besides reducing investor confidence in the telecom sector and also discouraging foreign and domestic investment.
Jio also said that the discussion paper undermines and sabotages the Prime Minister’s ambitious Digital India vision and mission. Moreover, the regulator’s consultation paper stated, “created a strong and wholly-unjustified incentive for certain incumbent operators to not upgrade their 2G networks to 4G and thereby keeping as many as 476 million 2G users in India – all belonging to underprivileged sections of Indian society deprived and excluded from the fruits of the Digital Revolution”.
Moreover, Jio slams Trai’s call to review the implementation of the zero-IUC regime accusing it of favoring the incumbents. On the other hand, incumbents like Vodafone Idea have welcomed Trai’s consultation paper, saying “it acknowledges the continuing traffic asymmetry between operators attributable to the popular use of 2G devices”. Further, the interconnect charge is paid by the call-originating telco to the destination carrier under the proposed BAK system that was scheduled to take effect from next January.
Jio wants Trai to adhere to the January 2020 timeline whereas Airtel and Vodafone Idea wants the timeline deferred. Jio also said that any deferment of BAK implementation would end the free voice regime, and will ultimately increase tariffs which are against consumer interest.
“At a time when the world is moving towards 5G, the (Trai) consultation paper has created an incentive for incumbent operators to keep India technologically stagnant and backward, and any change in implementing BAK amounts to regulatory unpredictability and evidences a regulatory flip-flop,” said Jio in its submissions to the sector regulator Friday.