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Airtel Chairman urges Indian Telecom regulator to reject the ‘Bill and Keep’ method

Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal has suggested the Indian telecom regulator to reject the ‘Bill and Keep’ (BAK) method and mentioned it must proceed with the interconnection utilization fee (IUC) regime. “The current 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 (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India – TRAI) 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,” Mittal informed TRAI in a letter on 24 July, a replica of which is to be had with IANS.

“BAK should be rejected and India should not be subjected to a regime which is alien to the mobile industry the world over,” he added. Mittal wrote to TRAI chairman R.S.Sharma. Under BAK method, such name termination fees don’t seem to be paid. The letter said that the IUC has no relation to buyer tariff and shoppers are taking part in loose or reasonably priced calls is a sworn statement that the present IUC regime isn’t coming in the manner of reasonably priced price lists.

“In the current debate going on in India on IUC, what surprises me the most is that no one has even talked about IUC for international calls settlement,” mentioned Mittal. He said that at the moment, IUC for a choice from India to the US is set 1.2 cents, to Europe about Three-30 cents, to Middle East about 10-14 cents. Neighbouring nations like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, fee between 2-13 cents.

Similarly, when the calls come into India, the TRAI has set an IUC to be paid to the cellular operators at 53 paisa and in flip the Indian world operator fees roughly 1 cent as IUC for the incoming calls on their community. “The TRAI is not even debating this issue, therefore, confirms the Authority’s acceptance of 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.”

“Why should India be any different? It should not be. The TRAI’s own regulation enshrines the principle of cost based IUC regime in line with the global practices,” he mentioned. He added: “I am, therefore, at a loss as to why TRAI should be considering a Bill and Keep 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.”

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