The Cellular Operators Association of India, a body representing GSM telecom operators, has termed Reliance Jio as a Back Door Operator (BDO), responding on the latter’s letter to industry stakeholders seeking association's governance overhaul.
Mathews said Jio was never an applicant for a UASL or UL license but bought a BWA through a front entity and then had it converted to a full blown UASL license despite strong objection from certain quarters including the CAG. “Despite all this skullduggery COAI welcomed Reliance Jio into the association and congratulated the new entrant on its launch,” he added.
COAI alleged that Jio’s letter seeking association's governance overhaul is slanderous as well as mischievous. The letter, according to COAI, suggests that the existing leading members are a cohort bent upon blocking entry of new operators on the basis of bald allegations.
COAI represents top telcos such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea as well as Reliance Jio.
“None of the half a dozen new operators who have entered in the last five years have ever accused COAI or in fact labeled the leading operators as IDO's,” Rajan S. Mathews, Director General, COAI, said.
Jio, a part of Reliance Industries (RIL), had acquired pan-India BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) spectrum in 2010 through its acquisition of Infotel. Mathews said that Jio was presented with the Constitution and By-Laws of the Association, pursuant to their application for membership and was well aware of the governance structure and practices of the Association.
“No issues were raised at this time and they agreed to abide by these rules and regulations. It is surprising that Reliance Jio now raises certain issues as something new. We can only believe these are now motivated by a desire to tarnish the reputation and credibility of COAI in the light of certain representations made by COAI to various government agencies,” Mathews said.
“COAI also wishes to state that any representation made is done after following all due processes of the association and with transparency on whether any member operator agrees or disagrees with the COAI position,” he added.
The association said that its members will review the letter submitted by Reliance Jio and do what they believe is in the best interest of the country, the customers and the association.
“The Association will continue to work for a stable, predictable regulatory environment which is conducive to the orderly growth of the sector for a connected and fully empowered Digital India,” Mathews said.
Jio in a September 23 letter demanded a comprehensive overhaul of the GSM industry body's rules, regulations and processes in a letter to COAI chairman Gopal Vittal and its director general Rajan S Mathews.
India’s top telcos like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular led by association and Jio have been locking horns for last few weeks over points on interconnections.