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TRAI asks operators to ‘mutually’ solve interconnection issue: report


India’s telecom regulator TRAI has requested Airtel, Vodafone and Idea to “mutually” resolve issue of interconnection with  Reliance Jio, according to this PTI report. The decision comes after TRAI’s Chariman R S Sharma held a meeting with operators over the issue. What’s interesting is that fact that this comes just days after TRAI imposed combined penalty of Rs 3050 crore on Airtel, Idea and Vodafone for allegedly denying interconnection to Jio.

The regulator said in a statement last week that operators were found to “willfully violate the license conditions” by denying Points of Interconnection (PoIs) to new entrant Reliance Jio while proposing to penalize them. However, Sharma has apparently asked operators to mutually resolve the issue “at the earliest” and warned them of action if service quality parameters were no up to the mark, the report added. Note that TRAI’s proposal to fine operators is yet to be reviewed by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT).

Interconnection issue

The battle between Jio and rest of operators began after COAI lashed out against  Jio’s network trails in August stating that the amount of traffic being generated from the Jio trials are “choking” points of interconnection, and “impairing” quality of service of other operators. While Jio went on to claim that crores of calls were failing while interconnecting with Airtel, Idea, and Vodafone, while the incumbent operators claimed to have released PoIs to Jio. A timeline of this here.

A month later in Septmeber, the battle took a rather unpleasant turn after Jio alleged that COAI’s internal rules and regulations are not fair and impartial and claimed that its voting process favor only three incumbent dominant operators (IDOs) namely Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, who allegedly command 68% of COAI’s total votes. In the same month TRAI decided to step in and hold a meeting with all telecom operators to discuss about the issue.

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Meanwhile Jio said that it may extend the period of its free welcome offer in case the management finds that “subscribers are not able to get adequate experience” of the promotional offer, while announcing its second quarter results (Q2 FY17).

Consultation paper on Interconnection

Following the interconnection issue, TRAI issued a consultation (pdf) paper last month asking whether a standardized interconnect agreement be mandated in case two telcos fail to mutually negotiate the terms and conditions of interconnection. It also suggested penalties to telcos in case they fail to arrive into an interconnection agreement within a stipulated time-frame, or in case they violate interconnection-related clauses in their license. More here.


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