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Saturday 18 January 2020

Call when unattended won’t make phone ring for 40 s

Reducing the time will increase the number of missed calls, which, in turn, will increase the number of calls as well as return calls: Airtel

Now when someone dials your mobile number, the phone will ring not keep ringing for 40 seconds. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have reduced the duration of ringing to 25 seconds. These companies have taken the decision to compete with rival Reliance Jio. One of the objectives behind the move is to reduce the cost of Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) on call-joining.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had unanimously asked the interconnected telecom companies to arrive at a solution before reaching an official decision on interconnect charges.

Interconnect usage charges are levied for connecting one network to another. In this system, the network through which the call is made pays a fee to the network that receives the call. As of now, this rate is 6 p per minute.

Airtel said it had decided to limit the time the phone rings to 25 s. This decision follows a similar move by Reliance Jio.

This may cause inconvenience to customers. With no clear instructions in this regard from the regulator, the mobile telephony service providers have no other option left. However, the companies had raised this issue on several occasions before the regulator.

Sources in the TRAI said that the regulator was planning to hold an open discussion on the issue of the period between the beginning of ringing of the phone and the receipt of the call by the targeted person on 14 October.

The IUC issue will be discussed threadbare in the meeting, sources said. A discussion paper has already been issued for this. Whether the meeting is happening will be announced within a week, said the sources.

Airtel said in a letter sent to TRAI on 28 September that although the company felt that the new call regime might cause problems to customers, the regulator had left it with no other option to avoid the loss on account of interconnect charges. So, the letter says, Airtel decided to reduce the time the phones on its network ring.

Airtel said that, despite several requests in the last seven or eight weeks, the TRAI did not instruct Reliance Jio to bring the phone’s call time on par with the standard practice in the industry. Neither was Jio given any general instruction to implement the 30-second period agreed by most companies.

Airtel says that reducing the time for which the phone rings will increase the number of missed calls. This will increase the number of calls to a person and also the number of return calls following missed calls. “This will adversely affect the customer experience as well as the quality of the network,” Airtel says.

The company says that this will make it difficult for customers to take the facility of transferring the call to another number. Last month, the controversy involving all mobile telephony companies over the IUC issue reached the regulator.

Airtel accused Jio of “cheating” the system in a bid to pay less for connecting calls to other networks. The IUC is proposed to be scrapped from 1 January 2020 onwards. But the TRAI is reviewing this deadline.

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