A telecom tower in Mexico. (Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg)

TRAI Issues Draft To Tweak Interconnect Regulations

Telecom regulator TRAI today issued a draft to amend the interconnect regulations, proposing certain changes in terms and conditions for operators to seek fresh call connect ports from other telecom operators.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has sought views and comments from the industry by May 18 on the draft.

The ‘Draft Telecommunication Interconnection (Amendment) Regulations 2018’ proposed that a service provider can ask another operator for additional ports, in case the projected utilisation of capacity is likely to exceed 85 percent over a 60-day period.

“The time frame for provisioning of ports for initial interconnection and augmentation is proposed to be increased to a maximum of 42 working days,” TRAI said in a statement.

The regulator said that an operator will have to give a forecast of outgoing call traffic of busy hours for each interconnect point once every six months – April 1 and October 1 – to the interconnecting service provider. The first such forecast has to be given within two months from the commencement of these amended regulations.

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The issue of inter-connectivity had been a major flashpoint between Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. and incumbent telecom operators like Bharti Airtel Ltd., Vodafone India and Idea Cellular Ltd., at the time when the newcomer launched its services in 2016.

Reliance Jio had accused other operators of not providing it sufficient points of interconnect leading to call failures, while operators blamed the free calls offered by the newcomer for the tsunami of network traffic.

In 2016, TRAI had also recommended imposing Rs 1,050 crore penalty each on Airtel and Vodafone and charges worth Rs 950 crore on Idea Cellular for violating quality of service rules. TRAI, at that time, had stated that it found the trio non-compliant with licence conditions and service quality norms, given the high rate of call failures and congestion at interconnect points for Reliance Jio.

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