Reliance Jio vs telecos: TRAI meets both groups to discuss interconnection issues

Sector regulator TRAI today met telecom operators to discuss ongoing tussle over network interconnection

By: IANS | Published:September 9, 2016 4:25 pm
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Sector regulator TRAI today met telecom operators Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea to discuss ongoing tussle over network interconnection, but barred officials of industry body COAI from the meeting.

“This is fight for justice, fight for customers. Not just Reliance Jio customers or Airtel or Vodafone but for all Indian customers,” Reliance Jio Infocomm Board Member Mahendra Nahata told reporters after an hour-long meeting.

Jio has accused incumbent telecom operators for not providing required number of equipment to connect its mobile network with theirs.

“We have asked for right number of connect, right quantum of interconnection. We have put forth our point of view to TRAI. It is for TRAI to look into the matter. There is no time frame indicated by the TRAI,” Nahata said.

As per the rule, interconnection among networks has to be done based on mutual agreement by telecom companies and any dispute in this regard should be brought in notice of TRAI, which can take decision on the matter.

Interconnection is required to enable mobile customers to make call on number or to customer of any telecom company. Industry body Cellular Operators Association of India, which has been confronting Reliance Jio on behalf of incumbents, alleged it was kept out of the meeting on insistence of Reliance Jio.

“COAI has been kept out of the TRAI meeting at the insistence of RIL Jio, and TRAI acquiesced to their demand in an unprecedented manner,” COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said.

The Cellular Operators Association of India yesterday, wrote to TRAI that the meeting scheduled for Friday, where in Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, have been called for discussing the issue, pertains to all members and not just the three telcos.

“Therefore we request TRAI to invite all members of COAI for the said meeting,” COAI letter to TRAI said.
Nahata, however, denied the allegation.

“We have not said any such thing. Whosoever was invited should attend the meeting,” Nahata said.

COAI last month had accused TRAI of baseness, but later apologised for leveling such allegations. Reliance Jio, which commercially launched its services on September 5, had earlier accused incumbent players for not releasing sufficient interconnection ports and had sought legal action against them.

Reliance Jio is also member of COAI, but has been sidelined by leading telecom operators in the association. Incumbent operators have sought clarity on whether the services of the new entrant are now “commercial” and if it is so, the company cannot offer free service for more than 90 days.

Reliance Jio has said its services are free till December 31, following which consumers will charged as per tariff plans that include free voice calls.