Major telecom companies like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea will have to pay heavy penalties if the operators deliberately block calls from other networks including Reliance Jio. According to telecom regulatory authority sources, the service providers will have to pay huge fine besides the possibility of license cancellation.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulations has imposed a limit to dropped calls on interconnect points to five in every 1,000 calls, or 0.5%. If the providers break this point, the telecom providers will be held responsible for anti-competitive behavior.
Commenting on the development, a top TRAI official disclosed that they have powers to file a case in the court for non-compliance with the regulation and since it is also non-compliance of license terms and conditions, DoT (Department of Telecommunications) has the power to cancel the license or levy a penalty of up to Rs. 50 crore. He added that the authority itself holds sufficient penal powers, which will be invoked if providers are found guilty of any malpractice.
Reliance Jio slams Airtel for deliberately blocking calls
The recent developments are attributed to the series of war between Reliance Jio and Airtel over points of interconnection (PoIs). In a statement released to the press, Reliance Jio had openly accused Airtel over deliberately blocks calls routed through their network.
Even though Reliance Jio claims that the existing telecom companies have not provided it with enough PoIs, Airtel counter-attacked by stating that the Reliance is creating an unnecessary controversy over PoIs to mask inadequacies in its own service.
Reliance Jio claims over 20 million calls are failing daily
However, customers of newly launched Reliance Jio are facing agony due to the inability to complete many of their voice calls. According to Reliance Jio estimates, over 20 million calls between its network and Airtel are failing on daily basis. The action by Airtel has damaged the reputation of the company to a large extent. Hence, we have come out openly by attacking Airtel for inferior service.
COAI accuses TRAI of undue favor to Reliance Jio
When contacted, the relevant spokespersons of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea declined to respond to emails. The whole problem started with Cellular Operators Association of India posted a complaint to the telecom department and the Prime Minister’s office by stating that Reliance Jio had launched full-fledged services in the guise of a test. They don’t have interconnected agreements with any of the incumbent telecom operators or a detailed tariff chart.
They also slammed Trai of doing an undue favor to Reliance Jio. The COAI disclosed that any reduction in tariff will only benefit new players and will hit existing operators.
Customers should not suffer, says TRAI
Responding to media, RS Sharma, TRAI chairman disclosed that the customers should not suffer from call congestion beyond the particular level that is 0.5 percent. The authority will take action if customers are made to suffer. However, he declined to answer as to what kind of action will Trai take against errant telecom service providers.
Earlier, Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal said that his company is already providing 2100PoIs, which is sufficient for Reliance Jio to operate effectively. He confirmed that they are in receipt of a demand note from Reliance for 1000 more PoIs. They are working on the process and additional PoIs will be established soon.