Meranews, Gandhinagar: Telecom service operators Vodafone India Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd on Wednesday expressed their disapproval for the revised interconnect usage charge (IUC) issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), saying the decision would affect the industry adversely especially at a time that it is under financial stress and implying that the move would benefit new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

“The suggested IUC rate, which has arrived in a completely non-transparent fashion, benefits only one operator, which enjoys a huge traffic asymmetry in its favour,” a spokesperson for Airtel said.

“The Indian telecom industry is already experiencing the greatest period of financial stress in its history. This is yet another retrograde regulatory measure that will significantly benefit the new entrant alone, while adversely affecting the rest of the industry as a whole,” said a Vodafone spokesperson.

The IUC rate was slashed from 14 paise per minute to 6 paise effective 1 October by Trai on Tuesday, and will be completely scrapped from 1 January 2020. The IUC rate is a fee a mobile services provider pays to another provider to link a call to the latter’s network.

Airtel, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said that the sharp cut in the IUC rate will only help transfer a part of its cost to other operators, thereby worsening the financial health of the industry. “As part of an industry which continues to be a critical driving force behind the economic growth in the country, we are genuinely dismayed by this decision,” it said.

Vodafone said it is considering its options in response to the Trai decision and added that the move could have serious consequences on investments in rural coverage, thus undermining the government’s vision of a Digital India. (ANI contributed to this story)