“It’s time an umpire steps in and says it is an LBW or not,” says COAI Rajan S. Mathews

By August 13th, 2016 AT 4:41 PM

The spat between Reliance Jio and the industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has heightened to the next level with Rajan S. Mathews, the director general of COAI said it’s waiting for an “umpire” to step in to resolve the issue, reports Financial Express.

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“It’s time an umpire steps in and says it is an LBW or not,” Rajan S. Mathews, director general of COAI. “The balance of trade is not in our favor”, he said. According to Mathews, the association would wait for clarity on parameters such as time period, subscribers, and usage for test services by new operators from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to take further steps ahead.

Few days prior, COAI pointed out to DoT that Reliance Jio is offering full-fledged services under the guise of “test” connections. The body blamed Jio for surpassing the regulation.

Subsequently, Mukesh Ambani, the head of Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) accused COAI of sabotaging its entry into the market as well as for maligning its name. He pointed out in a letter to the Telecom Secretary J. S. Deepak and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R. S. Sharma that the other telecom operators were not providing it adequate access points, or points of interconnection (PoIs), to terminate its calls/data, which result in delaying its commercial launch.

According to COAI, Jio’s already augmented PoIs was getting blocked due to the volume of voice traffic generated by the free offers of Jio.

“If you are going after my customer, and offering MNP and soliciting things and sending SIM cards with freebies. You can’t have a quote unquote trial period for 6 months. It is looking pretty much commercial launch to us,” Economic Times quoted COAI’s director general Rajan S. Mathews.

“Invariably when you want to test connections, you don’t have to pump 1.5 million people who generate huge traffic for more than three months,” he said.

The communications minister Manoj Sinha made it clear that the Ministry has no division between new entrants and incumbents. The Minister along with DoT secretary J. S. Deepak discussed with CEOs of telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, and Idea Cellular to solve the issue.

In the issue, a major hurdle is the interconnect usage charges (the fee that each operator pays to another for connecting calls between two subscribers). Currently, a consultation paper floats on this matter. TRAI has welcomed the views on reviewing the charges. If reduced, this would hurt the incumbents as they will have to terminate more incoming calls without a fee.

“It (Reducing IUC) hurts the operators’ plans for bidding as it aims to take away a major chunk of their revenue. The four top operators overall get IUC of about R17,000-R18,000 crore, which in net terms is about R8,000 crore”, Mathews said.

For the time being, Minister Sinha will seek clarification from Reliance Jio on the time period of their trial and the protocol it follows in testing.

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