"In fact, the loss to Airtel on account of below cost IUC has been to the tune of Rs 6,800 crore in the last 5 years on present value basis", Bharti Airtel Chief Regulatory Officer Ravi P Gandhi said in a letter to Trai Chairman RS Sharma today.
With prospects of a bill and keep model not ruled out in the new interconnect usage charge regime that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is shortly going to unveil, incumbent operators like Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular would be hit hard.
The present IUC charges stand at 14 paise a minute, while the Telecom Commission had recommended reducing it to about 7-8 paise. Reliance Jio is a wholly-owned subsidiary of RIL.
In a letter to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the country's top telco alleged that Jio's assertions were "grossly incorrect" and done with the goal to "create policy bias in its favour". Even these gross figures are much higher than what it actually received, Airtel said.
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"Not only are the facts presented by Reliance Jio grossly incorrect, but they seem to have been misrepresented with the specific objective of maligning other operators and misleading the Trai and the public at large", Airtel said.
The war of words over interconnection usage charges (IUC) refuses to die down.
Jio did not respond to email seeking its response to Airtel's move as of press time Wednesday.
Reliance Jio has backed scrapping the IUC altogether, a step that if taken will further erode revenues of the incumbent telecom operators.
In a letter written to the employees of Jio on completion of one year of commercial operations on 5 September, Ambani said: "In this past one year, we have broken several records, both in India and globally".
Reliance Jio argues IUC is an artificial barrier created by incumbent operators with legacy technologies. "Effectively, their inefficiency is being funded", Reliance Jio had previously said.
Reliance was introduced back in September a year ago, and even since its arrival, the telecom operator that has managed to garner millions of customers has been giving sleepless nights to other telecom giants like Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular. All telecom players except Reliance Jio support an increase in IUC rates.