Jio Running 'Sinister Campaign' to Bring Down Interconnect Charges, Says Airtel

Jio Running 'Sinister Campaign' to Bring Down Interconnect Charges, Says Airtel

In a fresh war of words, Bharti Airtel on Tuesday alleged that Reliance Jio is running a "sinister campaign" to bring down the call connection charges by misleading authorities and the public with inflated figures.

Bharti Airtel in a letter to TRAI Chairman R S Sharma alleged that Reliance Jio (RJio) has again misrepresented the facts through wrong calculations of interconnection usage charges (IUC).

Airtel's reaction comes a day after Jio alleged that the Sunil Bharti Mittal-led firm misrepresented facts purposefully to create a smoke-screen and hide its ill-gotten profits to support its false claim of loss from call connection charges.

Bharti Airtel said that RJio not only included the gross MoUs (minutes of usage) instead of net MoUs, but also factored in calls made within Airtel network while calculating the IUC.

"We are amused to see that Reliance Jio has deliberately ignored the fact that IUC is an inter-operator settlement and no operator pays IUC for the on-net calls, as these are intra network calls. They have deliberately made this elementary error and mischievously used a completely flawed methodology just to justify the inflated numbers with a view to change perception," Airtel said in the letter.

Both telecom majors have been levelling allegations on each other over interconnection usage charges - a tariff levied by a telecom operator on incoming calls from other networks and the charges are passed on to subscribers.

Incumbent telecom operators have been demanding higher IUC with reasoning that every call on the network incurs a cost and expenses of an incoming call on their network should be borne by the operator from whose network call has originated.

A Jio official, who did not wish to be named, said, "Airtel has only given bald statements and failed to produce any new calculation to substantiate its points whereas Jio has submitted detailed calculations."

Explaining the basis of calculation, the Jio official said, "Cost of work done by Airtel in terminating a call is agnostic to the originating operator, which was also agreed to by Airtel in Trai workshop. To support their new stand, Airtel should withdraw this position."

Reliance Jio had earlier said that telecom operators gained to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore from the IUC. In the presentation, without naming telecom firms, Jio said that operator 1 gained Rs 46,958 crore, operator 2 Rs 28,904 crore and operator 3 Rs 28,752 crore and the IUC should now be made nil to lower cost of mobile call rates.

Airtel in the letter alleged that Jio has been propagating these misleading numbers since Trai's IUC workshop held on July 18, 2017, and are now struggling to justify those inflated figures.

Airtel alleged that Reliance Jio has been completely non-transparent, and has not shared its IUC model with all stakeholders till now and yet, they continue to exaggerate and distort figures for incumbent telecom operators who have transparently shared the costing models.

"This is nothing but a part of RJio's sinister campaign aimed at misleading the authorities and public at large during the ongoing IUC consultation process. Their whole objective is to bring down the IUC through the misinformation campaign, with RJio being the sole beneficiary of the lower IUC," Airtel said.

The telecom major said it has been urging the regulator Trai to share the costing model so that such false claims can be uncovered.

The Jio official said that all operators have submitted their IUC model to Trai and they are not required to share model with other stakeholders.

"Airtel is spreading falsehoods," the Jio official said.


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