India’s telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommends Department of Telecommunication (DOT) to fine the incumbents with Rs. 3,050 crore for denying sufficient Points-of-Interconnection (PoI) to Reliance Jio. The penalty is combined for Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, and Vodafone India. The regulator pointed out that the aim of the incumbents was to toughen the competition and it resulted in poor quality service to the people.
The letter issued by TRAI today evening said that violating license norms warranted revocation of license, but since it would cause significant inconvenience to consumers, it has instead suggested penalties.
“It is evident that Bharti Airtel is in non-compliance with the terms and conditions of license and denial of interconnection to RJIL (Reliance Jio) appears to be with ulterior motive to stifle competition and is anti-consumer…the act of Bharti Airtel is against the public interest,” the letter stated.
Airtel received the penalty for 21 circles with each circle charged with Rs. 50 crore, which totals up to Rs. 1050 crore. Vodafone India too received the penalty for 21 circles. Idea Cellular was levied with the penalty for 19 circles, meaning its total charges come around Rs. 950 crores.
The issue of points-of-interconnection between Reliance Jio and incumbents has been prevailing in the industry for long. Lack of adequate points of interconnect or PoIs, required for voice calls to go through from one network to another, created call drops from Jio to other networks. Reliance Jio strongly condemned the act of incumbents through numerous letters to TRAI and media. According to Reliance, the company has anticipated a huge customer base for it services in advance and subsequently warned incumbent operators three months prior to provide sufficient PoIs, which they purposefully denied.