TRAI slashes termination charges for international long distance operators

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Adding to the woes of the embattled telecom sector, the telecom regulator may cut worldwide call termination or interconnect usage charges by half.

Indian telcos are expecting a loss of Rs 2000 crores annually owing to the reduction in International Termination Charge (ITC) from the existing 53 paise to 30 paise, a statement from Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said on Friday.

It added that the grey market, which routes worldwide calls by setting up illegal voice-over internet protocol gateways, needed to be curbed.

The loss will lead to a loss in revenue to the exchequer, from both licence fee and GST.

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It argued that curbing the menace of grey route was a more important regulatory priority than facilitating the shift of the global incoming traffic from OTT (over-the-top) route - apps like Whatsapp, Viber and Skype used to make voice and video calls over the internet - to carrier route.

The industry believes that the regulation from Trai to slash ILD termination rates from is a blow to an already stressed industry.

The reduction would only benefit foreign carriers at the expense of domestic players, he said. They were, in fact, going to ask for an increase in the rates to Re 1, and then later to Rs 3.5 per minute, The Economic Times reported.

These rates are paid by foreign carriers for terminating global calls in India.

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COAI said that the new entrant's views were "divergent" on the issue, but Reliance Jio did not comment on the matter individually.

This is the second blow after Trai reduced domestic termination charges from 14 to 6 paisa in October a year ago. An operator charges their rival an Interconnection Usage Charge when a user ends a domestic call on their network. "At present, about 20 per cent global incoming calls terminate in India via grey routes".

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said the new rule "shall come into force from the 1st February, 2018".

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