COAI, Cellular operators’ association has expressed disappointment over the Rs 3,050 Crore penalty recommended by TRAI on incumbent operators Airtel, Vodafone and Idea for allegedly refusing interconnectivity to newcomer Reliance Jio.
But the association, had led cellular operators from the front in their battle with the new entrant over call connectivity- said it will not get involved as interconnect issue was a matter involving individual operators and bilateral agreements.
“We are disappointed when large penalties are recommended or imposed on the industry…it is not a trivial amount…it seems that TRAI has imposed maximum penalty of Rs 50 crore (per circle),” said COAI Director General Rajan Mathews. However, Department of Telecom (DOT) will decide whether the same is appropriate or not, he said.
“The matter is between individual operators and TRAI. We were not privy to the showcase notice by TRAI or subsequent responses. We were not involved with details of the matter…it is bilateral…we will wait to see DOT’s response on the matter…DOT will have to review and decide,” he added.
When asked if the association will draw a future course of action to represent the stance of the incumbent telecos on the issue of interconnect and penalty, Mathews emphasised that operators will decide on how they want to respond.
In a setback to incumbent telecom operators, the telecom regulator suggested a penalty of about Rs 1,050 crore each for Airtel and Vodafone, and Rs 950 crore in case of Idea Cellular.
TRAI in its recommendation to Department Of Telecom, said it has found these three companies to be non-compliant with license conditions and service quality norms given the high rate of call failures and congestion at interconnect points for Reliance Jio.
It also noted that denial of interconnection by these operators to RJio “appears to be with the ulterior motive to stifle competition and is anti-consumer”.
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Sameeksha Bhardwaj, From ITvoir News Desk