Telecom regulator Trai has called a meeting of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea and Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio on Friday to resolve the bitter controversy which has risen between Jio and the others over
Telecom regulator Trai has called a meeting of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea and Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio on Friday to resolve the bitter controversy which has risen between Jio and the others over interconnection.
This development comes even as there are reports that more than three dozen members of the Parliament have written to government to intervene in the issue purportedly to see that Jio gets sufficient interconnection to ensure that consumers don’t suffer.
Jio which started its services this week has alleged that incumbent operators are abusing their dominant position and are not giving it sufficient inter-connection points so that Jio subscribers can seamlessly make calls to Airtel, Vodafone and Idea customers. This, Jio has alleged, is leading to calls drops when its subscribers call other operators.
However, hardening their position, the GSM operators’ association COAI has said that incumbent operators are “not obliged to entertain interconnect requests” that are “anti-competitive”. COAI has said that incumbent operators are “in no position, by way of network resources, or financial resources, to terminate volumes of traffic which are markedly asymmetric.” Incidentally Jio is also a member of COAI.
The government has indicated that it is the Trai which is authorised to deal with the issue as interconnection lies in its domain. But COAI on Thursday asked Trai to call all the telecom operators and not just Airtel, Vodafone and Idea for the meeting on interconnection.
“We believe that this issue pertains to all members of COAI and not limited to three operators. We therefore request Trai to invite all members of COAI for this meeting,” said COAI director general Rajan Mathews, in a letter to Trai on Thursday.
COAI said it hopes that Trai will consider its request favourably and call all its member operators for the meeting.
In a separate statement COAI hit out at Jio for indirectly calling officials of the association as employees of the top two or three operators.
“COAI is a fully democratic association and takes into account the views of all its member-operators. On all policy matters, the views of COAI are fully endorsed by all or majority of its member-operators. Especially with regard to the Inter-connect User Charge (IUC), we would like to categorically state that the views expressed by the association on the matter are of ‘all the members’ except Reliance Jio, which is the only member opposing it,” said Mr Mathews.
For Reliance Jio a major chink in its armour is inter-connection. As most of its subscribers will be making calls to older operators network, it will have to ensure that other operators provide it with abundant inter-connection points so that calls from Jio subscribers get seamlessly connected with subscribers of other operators. Insufficient interconnection points by old operators will impact the quality of calls by Jio subscribers calling to other operators.