After alleging that recent TRAI consultations on Interconnection charges favored new entrants, the COAI lashed out against Reliance Jio’s network trails that apparently has onboarded 1.5 million ‘test subscribers’. The amount of traffic being generated from the Jio trials are “choking” Points of Interconnection (PoI)—physical connection between two different telcos—and “impairing” quality of service of other operators, alleged COAI in a letter addressed to the DoT.
What’s interesting is the fact that Jio is also a part of COAI and has retaliated to the allegations of its co-members (from COAI) and termed them “malicious unfounded, ill-formed, and frivolous and are contrary to actual facts”, in a letter addressed to the DoT. MediaNama has reviewed a copy of the letter.
Reacting to this, COAI said that Jio has not provided information about its tariff plans and that the operator (jio) has not filed tariff information with TRAI either, as required. Even though Jio is collecting Customer Acquisition Forms (CAF), ‘we aren’t sure is these have been offered for any audit purposes’, alleged COAI. The lobby body further points out that Jio has also “tried” to port subscribers from other operators, even though the network is on test mode.
“Neither the Unified License agreement nor any other DoT guidelines provide for any such test/trial situations. In the 20 years since privatization (of telecom), operators have routinely cooperated by commissioning initial Point of Interconnection with 1-2 E1s, which is all that is required for testing.”
Last month Jio said that the average monthly data consumption on its network is over 26GB per user per month, while the average voice usage per month is over 355 minutes per user. These numbers are significantly higher from April when the company claimed 500,000 users on the (test) network, with an average data consumption of over 18GB per month.
‘We have permission from both TRAI and DoT for the trials,’ says Jio
However, the Reliance company pointed out to the DoT that it has created “the world’s largest” end-to-end IP network investing over Rs 1,34,000 crore, and that tests being conducted are meant to create a better network parameters to ensure good quality services to its future subscribers. Jio further added that the test trials were conducted after it duly informed both TRAI and DoT through a letter about the “commencement of test trials using employees and families of RJIL (Jio), its affiliates, consultants and service providers, and buyers of such LTE devices.” A copy of this letter was forwarded to the TERM cells as well, added Jio.
“…TRAI had infact sought certain clarifications on March 31, 2016, which clarifications were duly provided by RJIL on April 20, 2016, and the said communication also intimated extension of the offer of test trail to everyone on a non-discriminatory basis. DoT was also informed by RJIL on May 04, 2016 of the details ans scope of the test trial..” Jio said in its letter addressed to DoT.
It also pointed out to clause 7 of the Unified License which states that “…there are no restrictions, as regard conduct size, scale and duration of such testing, and this will naturally be dependent on the various aspects that will include type of technology, network and size, geographical reach, etc.” Clauses 29.1, and 29.4 also permits testing of networks before commercial launch, pointed out Jio in the letter.
‘Jio’s voice traffic is causing imbalance,’ alleges COAI
The amount of traffic being forwarded by Jio to other operators is “highly imbalanced” with more than 85-90% of the total calls being originated from Jio’s network, alleged COAI. It further stated that the initial number of PoIs used by Jio for testing, have been “hugely augmented” and are “choking” with millions of users making voice calls for free. This has impaired service being offered to subscribers of other operators, while Jio is “representing this as a delay in augmentation of PoIs by existing operators,” according to the lobby body that is going against its own member.
It added that operators including Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have a traffic imbalance of 1-2%, and the TRAI while determining Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) considered imbalance between operators to be less than 10%. The alleged spike in imbalance is due to Jio’s free (data & voice) offer, wherein existing operators are handling voice traffic “are not adequately compensated by IUC,” added COAI. This has caused financial damages, seems anti-competitive, and making a bet out of the existing IUC rules, added COAI in its letter to DoT.
To this, Jio has reiterated in its letter to DoT stating that other operators, “instead of augmenting the PoIs, are blocking PoI augmentation, on various unreasonable grounds.” And due this, there is insufficient interconnection between Jio’s networks to others, and that the existing 1.5 million test users are experiencing 65% call failures owing to congestion in PoIs, which according to Jio is far worse than industry standards.
“It would clearly not be prudent for RJIL to contemplate launching of commercial services with this level of call failures, RJIL is targeting to achieve 100 million subscribers in a year, and unless PoIs are released by other operators to support such traffic, it would not be advisable for RJIL to launch commercial services. As the same would result in quality of service….,” Jio said in the letter addressed to DoT.
‘COAI is maligning our name,’ says Jio
As we pointed out earlier, Jio is currently a member of COAI, while the association has went on to term the trial networks test being conducted by Jio as “pseudo tests” generating “pseudo one way traffic” as it provides free calling. This has led to “never ending pseudo demands” for more PoIs; “Our member operators (other than Jio) should no longer be expected to provide PoIs while this charade is being palyed out,” COAI writes in the ending part of the letter.
“In order to ensure compliance conditions and to the TRAI Regulations and guidelines…they (Jio) should be instructed to immediately disconnect all such connections provided to general public under the guise of test connections,” added the association in the letter.
To this, Jio said in its letter to DoT that the steps taken by COAI by circulating press releases, alleging “unfounded biases” through letters to regulators against test trials are attempts to disrupt the entry of Jio, and malign its name.