With incumbent operators engaging in a slugfest with Reliance Jio, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has asked the regulator Trai to formulate clear
guidelines for network testing with specific parameters.
“The DoT has written to Trai for setting clear rules around mobile network testing,” an official source said, adding the department had sent a communication to the regulator even before industry players approached it against Reliance Jio.
However, sources at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) denied to have received any communication from the DoT.
The telecom sector, known for fierce infighting among sectoral players, is confronted with a fresh battle brewing between the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) and incumbent players Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, among others.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) on August 8 wrote to Telecom Secretary J S Deepak against RJIL alleging that the company is using scale and processes and gaming policy under the garb of network testing.
RJIL on the other hand countered allegations by saying that incumbent telecom operators are trying to scuttle its test by not providing adequate interconnectivity in violation of present rules and deterring its launch.
COAI has alleged that under the garb of test, RJIL is bypassing regulation features like interconnect usage charge, poaching customers of other telecom operators through MNP etc. The DoT has asked Trai to define scale, the duration of testing, address telecom network interconnection issue and matters pertaining to subscriber addition.
While the DoT issues licences for telecom services, the regulator’s job includes monitoring and compliance of licence conditions by service providers, the source said. “All the issue raised by telcos like testing of network, interconnection, mobile number portability falls under the ambit of Trai. Therefore, the DoT has asked to frame clear norms to keep away dispute in the sector,” the source said.
RJIL, formerly Infotel Broadbad, won spectrum for 4G services in 2010 but is yet to start commercially.
During test, the company is providing 90 days unlimited calling and 4G data use on its network for free. It claims to have 1.5 million subscribers during test phase. The company has set target to achieve 100 million subscribers within a year of commercially rolling out service.
After RJIL, major incumbent operators started slashing data tariff and offering extra data for their existing customers. Last week, Airtel also announced a scheme offering 5 GB extra data for users using post paid or DTH connections.
COAI has also levelled allegation on Trai for being biased and working in interest of new entrants including RJIL. It has also took the matter to Prime Minister’s office. However, Trai Chairman R S Sharma has rubbished the charges and said the regulator will continue “to perform functions assigned in the Trai Act, with regard to consumer protection, quality of service, encouraging competition, fair play and growth of industry”.