Published: Sun, May 28, 2017
Sci-tech | By Doreen King

Trai Defends Rs 3050 Crore Penalty On Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea

Trai Defends Rs 3050 Crore Penalty On Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea

"The authority had clearly informed all the operators that denial of PoIs for any reason would not be acceptable and that all the operators have to provide requisite PoIs to maintain quality of service in the interest of customers", TRAI said in its response.

Vodafone in its petition has claimed that by providing the free voice calls and continuing to do so as a promotional offer beyond a period of 90 days, RJIO was violating norms and the TRAI's tariff orders and regulations. Trai in its reply on Wednesday, said the three incumbent operators "intentionally denied and delayed" provision of points of interconnect to Jio "only to restrict a new entrant. causing a lot of inconvenience to consumers".

Trai recommended penalties of Rs 1,050 crore each on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, and Rs 950 crore on Idea Cellular in October previous year, on the grounds that the carriers violated licence norms by denying adequate PoIs - needed for completing calls from one carrier to another - to Jio, adding that their actions appeared to be aimed at stifling competition, were anti-consumer and against the public interest.

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ET had first reported on May 13 that Trai would double down on its stand against DoT's objections. In another report, the UBS Securities Asia said that the number of Reliance Jio Infocomm Subscribers additions saw a down in April as compared to the other months.

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.

Since its launch in September 2016, Reliance Jio has rolled on like an unstoppable machine, capturing a user base of more than 100 million customers in a matter of months.

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As UBS' report points out, the data for the coming months of April and May will draw a clearer picture of what the future holds for the telecom wars, but current data does point to a much brighter future for Jio's competition.

The regulator also mentioned that non-compliance of terms and conditions of the licence warrants recommendations for the revocation of the licence.

It said there was no provision in the licence or TRAI Regulation "to deny/delay provisioning of PoIs during the test phase". Airtel says that the penalty has been recommended on an incorrect assessment of the situation. But after finding that incumbents were not willing to provide adequate PoIs to Jio as per its projections and demand, the regulator had to issue show-cause notices. It had proposed penalties of Rs 1,050 crore each on Airtel and Vodafone and Rs 950 crore on Idea for 21 and 19 licence service areas.

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"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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