Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in a letter to Trai last week has asked the sector regulator not to levy penalty on telcos over minor issues. “We request that these nominal or marginal deviations from the prescribed benchmarks should be waived off and no financial disincentives should be imposed on the operators,” said COAI which represents the private operators- Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. COAI also urged that Trai should take a ‘pragmatic and considerate view’ on the minor issues which could be caused due to natural disasters. The apex industry association also sought for a review of all the financial incentive orders issued from the quarter ended March 2017.
Telcos also noted that Trai should ignore minor fluctuations in the quality of service, which might have caused due to some natural disasters such as heavy rains of floods. “Carriers have argued that deviations may have been due to unforeseen circumstances, system failures or factors beyond the control of the carriers, for which they should not be penalised, and have sought for individual hearings to explain their stand,” explained an Economic Times report.
COAI Director-General, Rajan Mathews noted that Trai should work with telcos to resolve systemic issues, “instead of continuing to slap on penalties which are often quashed or reduced substantially by the courts”.
Recently, we reported that Trai is on the move to levy penalty on telcos who did not meet the new quality of service norms. Trai is looking to fine telcos for the quarter that ended December 31, 2017. “We will be imposing some penalty on those who have not met the stipulated standards,” said a Trai official on May 9.
That said, we don’t have any information at the moment on which operators are likely to face the fine, but as per the new call metric regulations, Trai can fine as much as Rs 10 lakh for every violation. Trai has already gone through the call metric data shared by telcos for the quarter ended December 31, 2017, and the regulator even sent out showcase notices for the same. An official confirmation regarding the fines is expected to follow very soon.