Government will look into telecom regulator's proposal to penalise 3 companies: Minister

Camille Francis
May 28, 2017

On the contention of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea that the 14 paisa per minute they get for completing a call from rival network was below cost, Trai said the present termination charge has been prescribed after a comprehensive consultation process.

In a detailed rebuttal to DoT, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) refused to reconsider its decision on the grounds that the incumbents were not giving adequate points of interconnect to Reliance Jio, blatantly and willfully, which in turn was hurting customer experience and quality of service.

Vodafone and Idea have also shown recovery in March after under performing Airtel in Jan and Feb, with smaller operators continuing to lose share at a rapid pace. Trai in its reply on Wednesday, said the three incumbent operators "intentionally denied and delayed" provision of points of interconnect to Jio "only to restrict a new entrant. causing a lot of inconvenience to consumers".

Last October, Trai recommended to the DoT a combined penalty of Rs 3,050 crore be imposed on incumbents - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea - for violating licence norms by denying adequate interconnection points to Jio and said their actions appeared to be aimed at stifling competition and were anti-consumer and against public interest. "On the contrary, the testing can not be completed unless sufficient PoIs are provided", it said.

In a statement, COAI said, "We have submitted our factual representation of what the industry is going through and a bare reading of that will adequately clarify that our members have categorically stated, even in their submission to DoT, that they will confirm and pay the licence fee on or before April 15, 2017, with this, there is no loss to the government also as the licence fee will be paid on actual revenue".

Since its launch in September 2016, Reliance Jio has rolled on like an unstoppable machine, capturing a user base of more than 100 million customers in a matter of months. It was responding to a point made by DoT that it was unclear on Jio's launch date.

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"Non-compliance of terms and conditions of the license under the TRAI Act, 1997 warrants recommendations for the revocation of the license".

It said there was no provision in the licence or TRAI Regulation "to deny/delay provisioning of PoIs during the test phase".

"As the PoI congestion in most of the circles was significantly higher than 0.5% (ceiling of call drops), PoI congestion averaged over a period of one month would certainly be much higher than the permissible level of 0.5%".

"In this context, the denial and delay in providing PoIs when the quality of service (QoS) parameters were not being met can not be explained in any other manner but wilful", said Trai.

As per Trai's recommendation, the penalty for Airtel and Vodafone worked out to about Rs 1,050 crore each, while in case of Idea Cellular stood at about Rs 950 crore.

Other reports by My Hot News

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