Telcos ask Trai to fix floor price for voice call, data
New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Thursday said certain operators have suggested fixation of minimum floor price for voice and data services.
Fixing of a floor price by Trai, if it happens, could end the days of free voice and data offers for consumers by operators. Trai chairman R.S. Sharma said this is a new idea that has come from some operators, and will be examined by the regulator. “We have not formed any view of this. We are open and consultative,” he added. He, however, did not comment on whether the suggestion had been made by incumbent operators.
Sharma admitted that floor price may be contrary to Trai’s stance of forbearance on tariffs, but said minimum price issue will have to be “deliberated”. He said the operators had argued that telecom companies offering below-cost tariffs to consumers over a period of time may harm the industry and its financials and therefore, were rooted for a minimum floor price. He added that other suggestions from operators included rationalisation of the goods and services tax (GST), reduction in licence fee and spectrum usage charges and extending the deferred spectrum payment liabilities over a longer period.
While Trai has already given its suggestions on a number of matters, including licence fee reduction, the proposals given by operators on Thursday fall under three broad areas—interconnection usage charges, tariff principles and ease of doing business, all of which are under consultation by the telecom regulator, Sharma said.
The incumbent operators have been vocal about the onslaught of free voice and data offers by the aggressive newcomer Reliance Jio (RJio) and its impact on the industry’s revenue in the 2016-17 fiscal.
Reliance Jio earlier this week, however, ascribed the financial stress in the telecom sector to existing operators like Bharti Airtel and Idea running businesses on debt and investing heavily in unrelated sectors.