High court rejects Vodafone stance on telecom IUC
A petition filed by Vodafone at the Delhi High Court here, against the consultation process adopted by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for fixing interconnection usage charges (IUCs) between cellular and fixed line operators, has been dismissed.
IUC is paid by the operator of a telecommunication service on whose network the call originates, to the operator entity on whose end the call terminates. These are currently determined according to regulations which were revised in 2015. The charge is 14 paise for a mobile-to-mobile connection and none for any other call.
Vodafone had moved the court earlier in the year against consultation papers on IUCs issued by Trai. Its petition was an attempt to make the regulator reveal the cost models it had gathered to determine the revised rates, on the ground of transparency. The petition had claimed that if the data was not shared, the entire consultation would be violative of the principle of natural justice, the Trai Act and other provisions of law.
In support, the company also cited a recent Supreme Court judgment on a previous Trai regulation on call drops. This had asked operators to compensate rivals for dropped calls — a decision the apex court ruled as arbitrary, unreasonable and non-transparent.
Following Voda fone’s move, other telecom majors Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular had joined the case against the Trai consultation. The latter is, however, supported by newer entrant Reliance Jio.
Disagreeing with the stance of Vodafone and the other incumbents in his order, issued on Monday, judge Vibhu Bakhru has allowed Trai to proceed. However, sources say, any final decision by the regulator will still be subject to a legal challenge.