New Delhi: Reliance Communications on Wednesday came out in support of telecom regulator’s decision to cut the call connect charges, saying the move will provide a “level- playing field" with voice calls becoming free.

Reliance Communications’ stance on the matter is in contrast to that of the larger players like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone that have slammed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) latest decision.

Telecom operators levy interconnection usage charge or IUC on incoming calls from the network of the other operator. These charges are passed on to subscribers by service providers as part of the tariffs. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, two of the largest telecom players in India, have alleged that regulator’s move to cut IUC charges will benefit only one operator and worsen the financial health of the stressed industry.

However, in a statement, Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Communications said that IUC cut has already been delayed by three years. “With voice calling becoming free, Trai’s move will provide a level-playing field," the company said. RCom said it welcomed the reduction in IUC to six paise, and also supported the bill-and-keep (BAK) model, to be effective from January 2020.

Under BAK regime, the operators only keep record of incoming calls on their network, but do not raise any demand from other operators.

Earlier on Wednesday, Airtel said: “The suggested IUC rate, which has been arrived at in a completely non-transparent fashion, benefits only one operator which enjoys a huge traffic asymmetry in its favour". Vodafone too termed the Trai’s decision as “retrograde regulatory measure" that would significantly benefit new entrant alone and adversely affect the rest of the industry.

Trai had on Tuesday announced a cut in mobile call connection charges to six paise a minute, and a complete phasing out of these rates from 1 January, 2020, a move that may benefit Mukesh Ambani- owned Reliance Jio and deal a blow to older players.

Reliance Group companies have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay high court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.

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