Won't change Rs 3050 crore fine imposed, says Trai

Govt suffered Rs 400 cr revenue shortfall on breach of license conditions by Airtel, Vodafone, says Jio

On the contention of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea that the 14 paisa per minute they get for completing a call from rival network was below cost, Trai said the present termination charge has been prescribed after a comprehensive consultation process.

In February, the Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body of the communications ministry, had asked Trai to reconsider its views and sought clarifications on almost a dozen points, including whether the regulator had the power to make such a recommendation and whether the stipulated 90-day period was given to the three telcos for providing PoIs to the newcomer. The regulator said the same thing for Vodafone and Idea.

It said that post its intervention Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea provided points of interconnect (PoIs) at much shorter notices (in some seven instances within two-three days) implying that they were capable of providing such PoIs without any delay.

In a point-by-point counterpoint rebuttal to DoT and to each of these three operators, the regulator said "after the launch of service on 5th September, 2016, the issue between RJIL and Airtel (in other separate letters Vodafone and Idea respectively) was limited to the aspect of providing sufficient number of E1s at PoIs to ensure that grade of service (GoS) at PoIs remains within the permissible limit of 0.5% so that the consumers of either operator continue to enjoy seamless, uninterrupted and congestion free service". It further added that it had provided PoIs to Jio "at an unprecedented pace despite the provision of 90 days in the licence".

The regulator, in response to queries by the DoT, said that its earlier penalty imposed on the three companies on the basis of licence service areas (LSA) were being confirmed.

Jio said the act of incumbent telcos has caused a potential financial loss and in any event a revenue shortfall of over Rs 400 crore in FY17. It was responding to a point made by DoT that it was unclear on Jio's launch date.

Jio started its operations in September a year ago and had a massive growth, the company discontinued its free data offer from March with some limited extensions till July 2017.

"However, on finding that the incumbent operators are not willing to provide adequate POIs to RJIL as per its projections and demand, the Authority had to issue show cause notices to the telecom service providers".

"As the PoI congestion in most of the circles was significantly higher than 0.5% (ceiling of call drops), PoI congestion averaged over a period of one month would certainly be much higher than the permissible level of 0.5%". "In this context, the denial and delay in providing POIs when the QoS parameters were not being met can not be explained in any other manner but wilful". 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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