TRAI’s decision refused by Bombay High court

Photo: PTI

Interconnection usage charges will not be reduced further”, said the Bombay High court on October 4.
Interconnection usage charge is the amount paid by one telecom operator to the other when a call from its network is made into others operator network.
Telecom Regulatory authority of India earlier decided to reduce interconnection usage charges from 15 paise to 6 paise, with effect from October 1. Further, it was planned to abolish IUC for local calls. But the division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice ZA Haq said that in financial and policy matters, courts should not pass interim orders as a matter of routine. The courts need to be very much cautious while passing any interim order. Hence it refused to stay TRAI’s decision. It is expected that newcomers in telecom sector like Reliance Jio would be in benefit with TRAI’s decision. But on the other hand, the network giants like Idea Cellular and Airtel Bharti has already filed separate petitions challenging TRAI’s decision. Idea Cellular argued that implementing such decision would make them suffer a loss of more than Rs 700 crore . Idea Cellular’s senior advocate Darius Khambatta argued that TRAI had no authority to amend Schedule I of the Telecommunication Interconnection Usage Charges Regulation 2003. The regulations could only be amended by the central government in accordance with its prevailing policy.Department of telecommunications has allowed them to use the technology of their choice but TRAI’s decision will force them to use one particular technology VOLTE-which will allow calls to be made using 4G data. This technology is presently used by only one operator, Reliance Jio.
The senior advocate submitted that the decision taken was against the interest of consumers.He put forth the fact that currently,95 percent voice traffic is based on old technology i.e 2G,3G technologies.
The representative advocate of TRAI argued back that there was not a reason to be urgent on seeking a stay on the implementation of the TRAI’s decision. The interconnection charges that previously had to be paid from 1st October at new rates by the companies would be paid effectively in the second or third week of November so that the petitioner companies will suffer minimum financial loss.