With Interconnect Usage Charge (IUC) being a hotly-debated topic, the Broadband India Forum (BIF) also believes that the earlier proposed date of 1 January 2020 should be held as it is and there should be no revision of this date. This represents the date, from which the zero mobile termination charges that are also called Bill and Keep (BAK) guidelines, could come into effect. Even telco Jio had proposed that the IUC be scrapped from January 2020.
Now, it seems like the BIF and Jio hold similar thought as far as responding to TRAI’s consultation paper regarding revising of BAK date is concerned. The former firmly stated that there is no need for a revision in the applicable date for zero termination charge to come into effect. “We sincerely believe and respectfully submit that any revision to this date would be a retrograde step and seriously harm the interests of the consumers and the nation in several ways,” stated TV Ramachandran who is President at BIF. “There is absolutely no need to revise the applicable date for BAK or zero termination charge and that it should be firmly held, as earlier scheduled by the Authority, to be effective from 01.01.2020,” added Ramachandran.
The body has also recommended TRAI not to delay the implementation date of BAK. It has also reiterated its commitment to contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India. With BAK being critical for Digital India, and for empowering more people to go digital, it is recommended to follow BAK earnestly at the earliest (proposed date by TRAI is 1 January 2020).
Earlier, TRAI had come out with a consultation paper on IUC. Here, it was inviting industry leaders’ opinion/insights on if the BAK regime should be deferred from the date (1 January 2020) set earlier. “We respectfully request that the definitive statement “Authority prescribes a Bill and Keep regime…from 1stJan 2020” in the above quote may kindly be noted. Thus, the already-belated evolution to BAK by 01.01.2020 was already prescribed and it would be incorrect and unfair to revise that decision now,” informed Ramachandran. “From BIF, we earnestly urge the Authority to adhere to its earlier prescribed schedule for BAK,”.
In related news, as of now, the TRAI prescribed IUC is 6 paise per minute. Telcos such as Vodafone, Airtel, and BSNL have not been imposing IUC on their customers. Jio has come up with a list of IUC-specific recharges for prepaid customers. This guarantees free IUC minutes whilst offering additional data. The telco has earlier stated that it was hopeful of the BAK regime coming into effect from 1 January 2020.