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Reliance Jio connectivity row: TRAI recommends Rs 3,050 cr fine on Airtel, Vodafone, Idea

A customer selects his number of Reliance Jio Infocomm 4G mobile services in Mumbai. Photograph: (AFP)

New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 22, 2016, 01.16 AM (IST)

The regulator of telecommunication sector in India on Friday recommended Indian ministry of communications and information technology 's department of telecommunications (DoT) to impose a total penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on incumbent players —Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular —for denying interconnection facility to newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm.

While Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have been slapped with a fine of Rs 50 crore for 21 circles each (except in the northernmost Jammu and Kashmir) state,  Idea faced the same amount of penalty for 19 circles each, Indian news agency PTI reported. 

In its capacity as the licensor, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in a letter to  (DoT), said that the regulator stopped short of cancelling licences, despite the violation of licence conditions by these companies, as it would cause massive inconvenience to the companies, according to Indian media. 

“However, the authority is 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 recommends a penal action of Rs 50 crore per LSA (circle)…,” the statement said. 

The recommendation comes in the wake of complaint by Reliance Jio, which launched its services on September 5, where it was alleged that the incumbent players were denying it sufficient number of interconnection ports leading to huge call failures. 

Taking note of the complaint, TRAI said that denial of interconnection 'appears to be with ulterior motive to stifle competiton and is anti-cosumer'. 

The incumbents, however, have claimed they have provided sufficient Point of Interconnections  (POIs) to Jio, according to several reports. 

Reliance Jio has said its customers are facing 75 per cent call failures on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea cellular networks due to insufficient interconnection facility provided by the incumbent operators, PTI reported. As per the service quality norms, not more than five out of 1000 calls should fail at the point of interconnect.  

(WION with inputs from PTI) 

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