In the current telco war between disruptor Jio and existing players, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has clearly supporting the disruptor, after taking into account the regulations.
Most probably for the first time in India, TRAI has decided to impose a fine of Rs 3050 crore on India’s top 3 telecom providers: Airtel, Vodafone and Idea for ‘deliberately’ blocking calls from Jio. In a letter for Department of Telecom, TRAI has proposed a fine of Rs 50 crore per circle on these telecom firms.
This fine has been proposed on Airtel’s 21 circles (Rs 1050 crore); Vodafone’s 21 circles (Rs 1050 crore) and Idea’s 19 circles (Rs 950 crore), totally to Rs 3050 crore fine.
TRAI has found these telecom operators to be “in non-compliance of the terms and conditions of licence, and denial of interconnection to RJIL (Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd) appears to be with ulterior motive to stifle competition and is anti-consumer..”
Anti-Business Practice By Telecom Firms?
During their declaration of Q2 (2016-17) financial results, Reliance Industries had said that due to on-going issues related with Interconnectivity, Jio customers haven’t been able to optimally use free voice calls offer, and their experience has been bad.
Jio has directly blamed other telecom players for blocking their calls as 75 out of 100 calls were dropped, which originated from Jio customers to other telco’s network.
As per Quality of Service regulation drafted by TRAI and Department of Telecom, Points of Interconnect congestion should be below 0.5%, whereas it exceeded massive 75% in case of Jio. As per a audit done by TRAI between September 15 and September 19, congestion level in some prime circles were witnessed as high as 95%.
TRAI Chairman RS Sharma had said that only 5 calls out of 1000 should fail under normal conditions, but in Jio’s case, almost 960 calls are failing.
In fact, in their letter to DoT and the accused telecom players, TRAI has said that the call drop issue due to Interconnectivity issues is against the interest of nation.
In the letter, TRAI has said that the denial of interconnection by telcos “appears to be with ulterior motive to stifle competition and is anti-consumer..”
As per some insider reports, some officials in TRAI had suggested a complete suspension of telecom licences of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea; however, this step was not recommended as this would have caused widespread inconvenience to existing subscribers.
In a statement issued, Airtel said: “We are continuously augmenting the POIs provided to Reliance Jio and the pace of augmentation has been the fastest ever done by us.. Further, we are in full compliance of the requirements of Grade of Service set by Trai.”
Jio, Idea and Vodafone has declined to comment on this matter.
Department of Telecom will now decide over the extent of the penalty, and will consult with TRAI on this matter. Note here, that TRAI cannot impose any penalty on telcos, as it was DoT which gave the telecom licenses to them.
In case a mutual consent is not reached among Jio and other telecom operators, then there can be a legal battle on this issue as well.
We will keep you updated as more details come in..