Telco wars: COAI seeks meeting with PMO, minister on TRAI, Reliance Jio
Levelling charges against TRAI of "tilting the playing field" and newcomer Reliance Jio of bypassing regulations, existing operators' body COAI has sought meetings with the Prime Minister's Office as well as the Telecom Minister to raise these issues with them.
New Delhi: Levelling charges against TRAI of "tilting the playing field" and newcomer Reliance Jio of bypassing regulations, existing operators' body COAI has sought meetings with the Prime Minister's Office as well as the Telecom Minister to raise these issues with them.
It has been up in arms against TRAI's consultation paper on call connect charges calling the move "unfair on incumbent operators", and has questioned the regulator's urgency in initiating the process of interconnect review, claiming that it "favours new entrants".
"We will meet Secretary, Department of Telecom (DoT), JS Deepak tomorrow. We will highlight the issue that we see TRAI's opinion tilting the playing field," COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews told PTI.
"DoT as a licensor is responsible for ensuring level playing field... In this context, we will also be taking up our concerns related to RJio," he added.
He said the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has also sought a meeting with the Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, and the PMO to highlight the matter but it is yet to hear from them.
A war of words has broken out between existing telecom operators and Reliance Jio after COAI called the latter's testing of network a bypass of regulations, with the Mukesh Ambani firm hitting back saying the charge is a bid to block its rollout.
COAI, which has members including Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone, on August 8 wrote to the Department of Telecom (DoT) demanding that Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) or RJio immediately stop all connections provided to 1.5 million users because it had allegedly bypassed regulations by offering full-fledged services under the guise of test connections.
RJio has hit back in a 8-page letter saying COAI charges were "malicious, unfounded, ill-informed, and frivolous and are contrary to actual facts" and was "promoting the vested interests of the incumbent dominant operators".
A senior RJio official alleged telecom operators of "artificially and illegally" blocking its network in "an anti-competitive manner".
"RJIL has already extended the media to the other operators' premises at its own cost. However, the other operators, instead of augmenting the point of interconnections (PoIs), are blocking the POI augmentation, on various unreasonable grounds," the company said in the letter.
It said due to insufficient interconnection, even the existing 15 lakh test users are experiencing 65 percent call failures owing to congestion at PoIs.
On Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Mathews said: "On many of the consultation papers brought out by TRAI, the topics that are selected seem to be favouring new entrants, to the detriment of the existing mobile operators."
He said that such contentious discussion papers included the recent one on Interconnection Usage Charge or IUC, as well as those on service quality, differential pricing, and free data.
Besides Mathews, other association members who would be attending the meeting with Telecom Secretary are COAI Chairman, Gopal Vittal (MD & CEO - India & South Asia, Bharti Airtel) and Vice Chairman Sunil Sood (MD & CEO, Vodafone India).