Airtel and Vodafone have announced a cut in the ringer time for outgoing calls on their network. The ring duration has been reduced from the existing 35-40 secs to 25 secs in a retaliatory move to Reliance Jio. With this announcement, the competition between two has intensified over interconnect usage fee (IUC). This is seen as an aggressive move in the world’s second-largest telecom market.
Bharti Airtel, the second-ranked operator by revenue, apprised that it had to take the extreme step after its repeated requests to Regulatory Authority went unheard. Recently Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the biggest telecom operator had reduced the ringer time to 20 seconds from its original duration of 45 secs. Airtel had requested TRAI to direct Reliance to restore to its original duration of 45 seconds. All the operators at the national level had even suggested for a standard timer of 30 seconds. However, with TRAI not taking any action, Airtel went a step ahead to counter Jio’s move.
“Therefore, we have reduced the ringing timer to 25 seconds in our network as well. In the absence of any direction from Trai and to prevent further loss of IUC (interconnect usage charge), we are left with no other option than to reduce the timer in our network as well,” Airtel said in its letter to Trai dated 28 September.
Airtel had alleged that Jio was playing with interconnect usage system with shorter duration ringer prompting recipients to call back. As per the logic, on receiving a missed call, the customer often calls back the originating operator’s network. This results in the conversion of an incoming to an outgoing call.
Airtel is getting concerned because the diversion in traffic will benefit Jio the most. Though Jio has a share of 36% of total voice traffic as incoming calls but increase in callbacks, it will surely make 6 paise per minute. Earlier this week, in a bid to remain in the battle over IUC, Jio increased to 25 seconds in some circles. However, this is slightly below the industry average of 30 seconds.
TRAI has put up IUC charges to 6 paise per minute, effective 1 October 2017. But it is planning to slash to 0 paise per minute from 1 January 2020. IUC charges are levied by mobile networks handling incoming calls from other networks.