The Department of Telecom is likely to seek clarification from telecom regulator Trai on Rs 3,050 crore cumulative penalty recommended by it on service providers Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.
A DoT panel, set up to study and recommend action on penalty suggested by Trai, is likely to seek clarification as to whether the regulator considered 90-day period that is given to telecom operators for providing Point of Interconnection to Reliance Jio from the date of request, a source said.
In August, Jio had submitted to Trai that it will need 12,727 network interconnection for mobile services and 3,068 points for STD call facility before commercial launch of its services. The company launched commercial services on September 5.
Trai’s recommendation came on complaint by Reliance Jio that over 75 per cent of calls on its network were failing as incumbents were not giving sufficient points of interconnect that would help complete calls. The issue is likely to be discussed by inter-ministerial Telecom Commission as well which is scheduled to meet on February 6.
In October Trai had recommended imposing total penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea for allegedly denying interconnectivity to newcomer Reliance Jio that led to deterioration in quality of service.
As per Trai’s recommendation, the penalty for Airtel and Vodafone works out to about Rs 1,050 crore each, while in case of Idea Cellular it comes to about Rs 950 crore. The regulator stopped short of recommending cancellation of their telecom licences saying it may lead to “significant consumer inconvenience”.
DoT then sought legal opinion from Attorney General (AG) on whether it has powers to impose penalty in the case. The AG opined positively saying that the DoT can impose penalty on the three telecom operators.