Telecom operators, including Reliance Jio, will face immediate action by regulator Trai for breaching call-drop threshold and below-par service, despite the 90-day period mutually agreed upon between the incumbents and the new player on providing inter-connection ports.
“Regulation is law. No one can play with it even if there is a mutual agreement. Though telecom operators are given time of 90 days to provide inter-connection, it is only applicable in the case of normal inter-connection when the networks are operational and there is additional capacity available,” an official source said. “The inter-connect agreement cannot violate quality of service rules including one on network congestion.”
As per quality of service rules, not more than five phone calls by a subscriber in 1,000 should fail due to network congestion. Reliance Jio — which commercially launched its services on September 5 — has accused incumbent players of not releasing sufficient inter-connection ports and had sought legal action against them.
RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani, on September 1, alleged that Jio network had suffered 5 crore call failures in the preceding week due to inter-connectivity issues. Inter-connection is required to enable mobile users to make calls to customers of other telecom networks. A mobile operator levies inter-connection usage charge for each incoming call it gets from subscriber of another network.
Last week, industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), representing incumbent telecom operators — Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular — said the players will meet to negotiate reasonable incremental capacity to be provided to Reliance Jio and following an agreement, they will have 90 days to comply with the latter’s request for ports. “Trai has sufficient powers to ensure telecom operators comply with the stipulated norms,” the source said.
Under the Quality of Service norms, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India can impose penalty of Rs 1 lakh for every instance of rule violation. Further, under the Trai Act, the regulator can take stringent action leading to cancellation of telecom licences.
COAI has accused the regulator of being biased and said various consultation papers, including review of inter-connect usage charge (IUC), issued by it can adversely impact business of incumbents and favours a new entrant.
Trai issued a discussion paper to review IUC following a complaint by COAI against BSNL service that allowed the latter’s subscribers to make calls on mobile and landline through a mobile app. This service of BSNL could not be made operational as the regulator asked them to hold it till the matter is resolved.