Vodafone questions interconnection charges by Trai

Vodafone says the interconnection charges set by Trai would put older telecom service providers with a larger subscriber base at a greater disadvantage than newer networks


Vodafone Mobile Services and Bharti Airtel have challenged the regulation on grounds of arbitrariness. Photo: Mint
Vodafone Mobile Services and Bharti Airtel have challenged the regulation on grounds of arbitrariness. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Vodafone Mobile Services Ltd on Wednesday questioned the interconnection charges set by the telecom regulator.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has prescribed a zero interconnection or termination charge for domestic calls originating/ending on wireline networks. The interconnection charge for a mobile-to-mobile local and national long distance was fixed at 14 paise per minute.

Former finance minister and counsel for Vodafone, P. Chidambaram, told a bench headed by chief justice of the Delhi high court G. Rohini that such a step would put older telecom service providers with a larger subscriber base at a greater disadvantage than newer networks as most calls would be terminating at their end.

ALSO READ: Reliance Jio, Tata oppose Airtel, Vodafone plea on Trai’s IUC norms in Delhi HC

“Revenue for interconnection charges must be shared under Section-11 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 since significant costs have been incurred on providing infrastructure which is being used by other telecom service providers,” Chidambaram added.

Trai had introduced a regulationc on interconnection usage charges on 23 February aimed at lowering call rates and subsequently amended it on 14 September. Vodafone Mobile Services, a subsidiary of Vodafone India Ltd, and Bharti Airtel Ltd, have challenged the regulation on grounds of arbitrariness.

ALSO READ: Interconnection usage charges revision will hit investments, say telcos

Interconnection usage charges are payable by a telecom operator whose subscriber makes a call to the operator whose subscriber receives the call. Trai reviews the interconnection charges in intervals of two-three years, but has been unable to do it since the current interconnection regime came into place in April 2009.

A challenge to this is pending before the Supreme Court. The new charges are a consequence of the consultation process started by the telecom regulator in November 2014.

The case will be heard on 9 January.

More From Livemint