Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in a detailed response to Department of Telecommunications (DoT) letter, has rejected to reconsider its recommendation of penalising Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for not providing adequate points of interconnect (PoIs) to Reliance Jio.
TRAI has stood firm on the decision of imposing penalty worth Rs 3,050 crore on the operators as they have failed to provide enough PoIs to Jio that led to massive call drops. According to ET, TRAI on Wednesday said that Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had willingly ignored the rules to choke the competition, and according to telecom regulator, this action should ideally have led to the cancellation of licenses. However, the move would cause a massive inconvenience to consumers. Therefore, it has recommended penalising the three operators “in the view of the large public interest involved.”
“The authority considered the fact that revocation of the licence will entail significant consumer inconvenience and, therefore, recommended a penal action of Rs 50 crore per licence area where points of interconnect congestion exceeded the allowable limit of 0.5%. Clearly, penalty to a telecom service provider amounts much less in severity than revocation of its licence,” TRAI said in three different letters sent to DoT.
The rejection came after Airtel urged the telecom department to reject TRAI’s recommendation. Airtel says that the penalty has been recommended on an incorrect assessment of the situation. It further added that it had provided PoIs to Jio “at an unprecedented pace despite the provision of 90 days in the licence”.
The whole thing came into limelight after in October last year, recommended penalties of Rs 1,050 crore on Airtel and Vodafone and 950 crores on Idea Cellular, as all the operators violated license norms by denying PoIs to incumbent Reliance Jio. For those who are not aware, PoIs allows customers of one service provider to communicate with the customers of another service provider. The DoT then asked the regulator for more clarification on this matter and asked the regulator to reconsider its recommendations.