Telecom operator Bharti Airtel today said that it will approach government and telecom regulator Trai to clear the “confusion” that led to proposed penalty of over Rs 1000 crore on it for not providing interconnection facility to Reliance JIO Infocomm. “We are aware of proposed penalty. We believe there is confusion here. We will find way to go back to Trai and DoT. We are very confident that government will take a very objective position in the Herculean efforts we have put to resolve this issue,” Bharti Airtel MD and CEO for India and South Asia Gopal Vittal said during analyst call today.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended the Department of Telecom to slap total penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular for not resolving interconnection issue with Reliance Jio despite its direction that led to high call failure on latter’s network.
“It is part of our regulatory obligation that we provide connect. At the end of the day it is our job to fight in the market and serve customers better. So this is a non-issue,” Vittal said. He said that Jio announced on August 31, that they would launch services on September 5.
“There is lot of augmentation that we have done on points of interconnect. We have never seen that kind of augmentation that we have ever done in the past,” Vittal said. He said that the interconnection ports that Airtel has provided per million of customers is more that 2.5 times than of any other operator in India.
“The regulation allows you 90 days to all these augmentation. We have done it literally in 5 weeks,” Vittal said. Talking about Airtel strategy to counter Reliance Jio ‘s free 4G mobile service, Vittal said that it is very difficult to offer free service in response but company will look at offering more bundled service like Jio is offering to counter threat from it.
“We believe that when something is free there is only way to compete is to go and give it for free. It is very difficult. In that sense we are watching that space. Free stuff also has impact on quality of network. We are keeping track on that,” Vittal said.