Trai slashes global call termination rate to 30 paise per minute

International Incoming Call Termination Charges Cut

After slashing the domestic interconnect charges, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday slashed the global interconnect charges from 53 paise per minute to 30 paise per minute. The new rates will be in effect from February 1.

The telecom regulator has slashed worldwide termination charge (ITC) - paid by global operators to local networks that receive calls - by 43% to check the grey market for overseas incoming calls, a move that will hurt revenue of India's older operators reeling from ongoing brutal price wars.

"Another issue raised in the CP (consultation paper) was about prescribing International Termination Charge and Prescription of revenue share between Indian ILDO (international long distance) and access provider in the International Termination Charge".

The move is expected to hit hard the top three telecom players - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular - who are estimated to together generate revenues of about Rs 5,000 crore from incoming global calls.

The move follows a steep reduction of the domestic Interconnection Usage Charge from 14 paise per minute to 6 paise, effective from October 2017.

Indian telecom operators are already going through severe financial issues, and this move will further increase their woes. The companies had also been seeking an increase in this charge to Re 1 and then to Rs 3.50.

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On the other hand, had Trai made a decision to increase ITC rate to Re1 per minute, industry and the country would have benefitted from incremental forex of Rs6,000 crore and an additional forex of around Rs10,721 crore had the ITR been eventually increased to Rs3.5 per minute.

Most of these worldwide calls terminated on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea's network.

The move, however, would negatively impact incumbent carriers, as they would stand to lose a large chunk of Rs 5,000 crore of revenue that comes from incoming worldwide calls.

Telecom firms levy termination charge on operators from whose networks calls have been made, for transmitting them to the subscriber.

The reduction in the charge will lower the attractiveness of the grey route for carrying worldwide incoming voice traffic and therefore carrier route for global incoming traffic would witness a legitimate growth, Trai has said while backing its move.

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