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Trai issues interconnectivity rules, sets 30-day deadline for agreements

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) issued a mandate to service providers on Monday, directing them to enter into an interconnection agreement on a “non-discriminatory basis” within 30 days of receiving connectivity request from another mobile operator.

The regulations comprise rules for setting up network connectivity agreements, seeking ports and augmenting Points of Interconnect, agreeing upon applicable setup and infrastructure charges, disconnection of ports and penalties for interconnection issues.

The rules will come into effect from the 1st of February and they will apply to all the service providers offering telecom services in India, Trai said in a notification.

“Through these regulations, the authority has mandated that every service provider shall, within thirty days of receipt of request from a service provider, enter into interconnection agreement on non-discriminatory basis, with such service provider,” the notification added.

In October 2016 Trai had started a consultation process on regulations for standard interconnect agreements. The rules issued on Monday are a result of that process.

The issue of interconnectivity was a major bone of contention in 2016 between the then-upstart Reliance Jio and other established telcos like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.

Reliance Jio had accused other operators of not providing sufficient points of interconnect which led to dropped calls on the network. Competing operated contended that free calls offered on by Jio were causing network congestion issues for them.

Following this issue, Trai had recommended the Department of Telecom to impose a Rs 3050 crore fine on the established telcos. for “willfully violate the license conditions”.

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