New JIO tariff plans against TRAI norms

“.not only the steps taken by Airtel were insufficient to bring down the POI congestion to the desired level of 0.5% in most of the LSAs but also that Airtel appeared to have ulterior motive to stifle competition”, TRAI said in the letter.

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.

The telecom commission had in February asked Trai to clarify on nearly a dozen points including the basis of which the penalty amount was calculated and the provision in the law that enabled it to do so. Idea’s tally grew by 2.09 million customers, while Vodafone also added 1.83 million new connections in March. ET had first reported Trai’s stand to back its views on the matter to DoT, in its May 13 edition.

Trai recommended penalties of Rs 1,050 crore each on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, and Rs 950 crore on Idea Cellular in October a year ago.

TRAI, in October 2016, had asked the DoT to impose penalties of Rs 3050 crore on these three operators, but the DoT had asked the regulator for more clarification and to reconsider its recommendations.

While Jio claimed that the incumbent telcos did not provide it with enough PoIs, Airtel has said Jio was creating an unnecessary controversy to mask its inadequacies. It said “the fact is that we have provided PoIs to Jio at an unprecedented pace despite the provision of 90 days in the licence”. Jio commercially launched services on September 5. It was responding to a point made by DoT that it was unclear on Jio’s launch date.

“The terms of the licence, as it stands today, does not allow the Licensees to unilaterally decide to and remit lesser licence fees, and any such act is a material breach of the licence terms”, the letter stated. Airtel says that the penalty has been recommended on an incorrect assessment of the situation.

On the point that Trai did not take into consideration incumbents’ augmenting activities before issuing recommendations, the regulator said it did.

“However, on finding that the incumbent operators are not willing to provide adequate POIs to RJIL as per its projections and demand, the Authority had to issue show cause notices to the telecom service providers”.

The authority said it had been monitoring the PoI congestion and call failure data for over three months. These service providers were Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd (108.68 million), Bharti Airtel (49.13 million), Vodafone (37.72 million), Idea Cellular (24.70 million) and BSNL (21.67 million).

“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”.

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