Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio locked horns again on Thursday over how long should a voice call ring on your mobile phone even as the telecom regulator is set to issue a regulation on this matter in two weeks.
While Bharti Airtel wants the ringing time be set at 45 seconds and has argued that networks receiving the call must be allowed sufficient time, Jio has batted for a reduction in this to 20-25 seconds stating that this will save spectrum resources.
After floating a consultation paper on the matter on 16 September, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Thursday conducted an open house discussion with stakeholders.
Last month, Airtel, the country’s second-ranked operator by revenue, shot off a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, saying that it has cut the ringing time for outgoing calls on a rival network to 25 seconds from 45.
This was a tit-for-tat move after its bitter rival Jio did the same.
“Every second reduction on the ringing time saves spectrum resources for us,” Mahipal Singh, Associate Vice-President of Jio, said on Thursday.
94% calls on Jio’s network are answered within 25 seconds,” he said, adding that the ringer time should be outside regulatory intervention.
Rival Airtel, on the other hand, said that the timer should be set based on the preference of the network which is receiving the phone call.
“The time taken to terminate the call on a network should be uniform across networks. And the terminating or receiving network should be allowed sufficient time to answer the call. This should be 45 seconds,” Ravi Gandhi, Chief Regulatory Officer, Bharti Airtel, said.
If these ringing timers are set differently by different network operators, the chances of answering the call by user of one network would be different from the user of another network as one party would get more time to answer the call than the other party.
Also, every call that lands on a mobile network fetches it money. The interconnect usage charge or IUC is levied by mobile networks handling incoming calls from rival networks, and is a source of revenue for telcos such as Airtel and Vodafone Idea who enjoy more incoming traffic than outgoing.
Interestingly, Jio, which reduced its outgoing call ringer time to 25 seconds, has more outgoing traffic than incoming. Jio’s outgoing traffic is 64% of its total voice traffic, as of June end.
Airtel had last month alleged that by Jio reducing its outgoing call ringing time, the change in pattern results in a missed call, and forces the call receiver on the rival network network to dial back and, hence, create incoming call traffic for Jio.
“Reducing the call ringing time and hence reducing traffic asymmetry artificially is not the way to go,” Gandhi said.
Jio, however, has argued that globally, most operators have an average ringing time of only 15-20 seconds, and 25 seconds ringing time on Jio network is in line with global practice.
It is important to note that the timer for domestic calls is not regulated by any authority in India at present. Operators have the freedom to choose the ringer timers.
Vodafone Idea has batted for the ringer time to be set at 30 seconds.
“Networks where a call originates should not have any timer. This timer should be set only for terminating or receiving networks,” Sundeep Kathuria, Executive Vice-President, Policy and Regulation, Regulatory Affairs, Vodafone Idea, said at the open house.
The ringing time also impacts network efficiency. The maximum time allowed to answer the call takes on more importance as the alerting phase also engages scarce radio spectrum resources. Ringing for a long time, when a user is unlikely to accept the phone call, would led to non-optimal utilization of resources.
The reverse also has implications. Configuring duration of ringing time on lower side might save resources but on the other hand it may cause concerns related to network performance, if duration is much lower than the typical time one takes to answer the call.