The interconnect usage charge has been a source of much debate in India, with regulators, operators and consumers all disagreeing on who the charge should rest with

The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) decision to cancel the scrapping of the interconnect usage charge in January 2020 risks derailing the government’s Digital India initiative, according to Indian telco Reliance Jio.

TRAI had originally said that it would scrap the interconnect usage charge – a levy of INR 0.06 per minute for all calls between different operators networks – by January 2020. However, it now appears to have rowed back on that decision, with some analysts speculating that the interconnect usage charge could be here to stay.

India’s disruptive operator, Reliance Jio, has drawn the ire of its 330 million subscribers, over its decision to pass the charge on to them, effectively ending free-calls on its networks. Jio had said that it would cease charging its customers as soon as TRAI revoked the charge in January 2020.

Upon TRAI’s decision to explore extending the charge, Jio wrote to India’s telecoms regulator to express its extreme dissatisfaction, accusing it of protecting the vested interests of Jio’s main competitors.

“The consultation paper aids and abets sabotage of the Prime Minister’s Digital India mission because it protects and perpetuates the vested interests of certain incumbent telecom operators who do want their large body of 2G customers to forever remain digitally disempowered and deprived of the fruits of the Digital Revolution," the letter read. 

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