LEGAL/POLICY

Airtel, Vodafone Idea may Get Relief From DoT In Jio Interconnection Issue: Report

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In the backdrop of a huge backlog of AGR dues payment and the coming spectrum auctions, the Department of Telecommunications may reject the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) recommendation to impose a fine of Rs 3,050 crore(US$ 414,832.21) on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) for failing to provide points of interconnection to Reliance Jio in 2016, according to a Financial Express report.

Factors such as a lack of approval from the telecom and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and the new telecom regulator may also indirectly help in providing relief to the telcos, the publication said.

Additionally, the telecom department is also apprehensive about Airtel and Vi approaching the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to challenge the demand notices.

India’s telecom sector, in the efforts of enabling policies including more quantum of the spectrum, is set to establish new benchmarks in the next-generation network deployments and service delivery.

The Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the apex decision-making body of the telecom department, had approved the penalty amount last year in July after Trai’s insistence.

The Trai had recommended a penalty levy of Rs 50 crore on Bharti Airtel and Vi each in 21 circles while a similar fine was imposed on Idea Cellular in 19 circles, as per the publication.

Hence, a fine of Rs 1,050 crore was imposed on Airtel and Vi each while for Idea it was Rs 950 crore. In August 2018, Vodafone and Idea merged and was christened Vodafone Idea.

The Trai had recommended the fines after observing a high level of congestion in networks of the three telcos, leading to call failures made to and from Jio networks.

The telcos, however, contended that it was unjust to impose fines on the basis of daily monitoring of network congestion and it should have been monitored on a monthly basis instead. They also said they conformed to the 90-day notice period for providing the points of interconnection.

As per the quality of service (QoS) norms, the congestion level should not exceed 0.5% while for call drop, the failure rate should not exceed 2 per cent.

Notably, the telecom regulator does not have the authority to penalize operators and it can only charge sheet them in a civil court.https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com

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