Reliance Jio has alleged that Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd are masquerading fixed landline numbers as mobile numbers to earn undue revenue through the interconnect usage charge.
In a letter to the telecom regulator, Jio has alleged this is a fraudulent attempt by incumbent telecom operators for which they must be penalised.
“The incumbent operators have implemented a process under which various enterprises are offered mobile numbers as their customer care or helpline numbers. In these cases, the mobile number is used just as a virtual number for routing all such calls to call centres,” Jio said in a letter dated 14 October.
Mint has seen a copy of the letter.
This exercise, Jio has alleged, changes the nature of the call from ‘mobile to wireline’ to ‘mobile to mobile’ which is a “fraudulent attempt” made by incumbent operators to illegally extract the interconnect usage charge at 6 paise a minute.
This fresh letter from Jio comes in the midst of the latest controversy over the IUC which has erupted after TRAI last month said it will review its decision to scrap IUC from 1 January 2020. The regulator has floated a consultation paper to deliberate on this matter with stakeholders.
IUC, which has been set at 6 paise a minute, is levied by mobile networks handling incoming calls from rival networks.
Scrapping IUC or reducing it would benefit an operator like Jio with more outgoing traffic than incoming calls. As of June-end, 64% of Jio’s total traffic was outgoing.
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea would stand to gain if Trai decides to postpone the date of scrapping IUC as these telecom operators get more incoming calls than outgoing.
With the fresh letter, Jio has also alleged that incumbent operators are not only earning IUC revenue illegally but are also denying Jio of the revenue it should earn at 52 paise a minute that originating operators earn for calls made to universal access and toll-free numbers.
“We suspect that thousands of such numbers are operational in the market deployed by incumbent operators,” Jio said in the letter.
“Such illegal, fraudulent and cheating practice has resulted in millions of minutes originating on Jio network getting considered as mobile terminating minutes instead of wireline termination, not only causing huge loss in hundreds of crores to Jio and undue enrichment to incumbent operators but also to influence the authority on apparent traffic asymmetry between Jio and incumbents, which is the only reason cited by the authority to review IUC regulations,” Jio alleged.