Trai defends penalty on Airtel, Vodafone, Idea in RJio case

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It has said it was also aggrieved by the stand of the the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) allowing the alleged violation to continue.

It said telecom operators are bound by licence conditions that make it obligatory on it "maintaining Quality of Service" and "a breach thereof is liable to be treated as breach of terms and conditions of the licence".

The PoI issue has been at the centre of a battle between Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio on one side and incumbent telcos Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea on the other.

Compared to 1.2 million new customers in February, Airtel added 3 million new users in March; Idea added 2.1 million in March compared to 1.2 million in February, while 1.8 million new customers joined Vodafone in March, compared to 0.8 million in February.

"However, the authority was mindful of the fact that revocation of the licence will entail significant consumer inconvenience and therefore in view of the larger public interest involved, the authority recommended a penal action of ₹50 crore per circle", it said.

"The recommendations were framed only after observing a continued violation of QoS Regulations and license conditions by Airtel and (Vodafone and Idea)", TRAI said in a point-by-point response to DoT.

The regulator also mentioned that non-compliance of terms and conditions of the licence warrants recommendations for the revocation of the licence. DoT had sought clarifications on several points, including the provision of law under which the amount was recommended. ET had first reported Trai's stand to back its views on the matter to DoT, in its May 13 edition.

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Jio said the act of incumbent telcos has caused a potential financial loss and in any event a revenue shortfall of over Rs 400 crore in FY17.

The data further said that as on 31st March 2017, the top five Wired Broadband Service providers were BSNL (9.98 million), Bharti Airtel (2.08 million), Atria Convergence Technologies (1.17 million), MTNL (1.01 million) and YOU Broadband (0.62 million).

The rejection came after Airtel urged the telecom department to reject TRAI's recommendation.

DoT will now consider the response before taking a decision.

"We disagree with Trai's observations and believe that the penalty has been recommended on the basis of an incorrect assessment of the situation on ground", it said in a statement.

Trai said as per information received from the telcos, there was a significantly high rate of failure of call attempts during busy hours on PoIs with Reliance Jio in most of the licensed spectrum access (LSA).

Trai said there is no provision in the licence or regulations to deny/delay provisioning of PoIs during the test phase. This led to the quality of services being hampered, and ideally, should have led to the cancellation of licences.

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