TRAI had in 2016 imposed a penalty on Airtel and Vodafone Idea for not providing sufficient points of interconnection (PoIs) to Reliance Jio. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Reliance Jio PoI Issue: Telecom Body Approves Fine On Airtel, Vodafone Idea

The Digital Communications Commission, the apex decision-making body of the telecom department, has approved imposition of a penalty on Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Vodafone Idea Ltd. for not providing sufficient points of interconnection to Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

"DCC has agreed to impose penalty on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea for not providing PoIs to Reliance Jio. However, the Commission has decided to take TRAI's view on revising quantum of penalty in the backdrop of stress in the sector," an official source said.

The DCC, however, disagreed with a proposal of one of the telecom secretaries to fine Reliance Jio as it "too failed to deliver quality service to customers".

"A secretary from a nodal ministry said the penalty should be apportioned and applied on Reliance Jio as well. His point was whether responsibility of providing quality of service by a primary licence holder be shifted on others? However, DCC members did not agree to the view of imposing penalty on Reliance Jio," the source said.

In October 2016, regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had recommended a total penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Airtel and Vodafone Idea for allegedly denying PoIs to newcomer Reliance Jio.

The penalty on Airtel and Vodafone works out to be about Rs 1,050 crore each. In case of Idea it comes to about Rs 950 crore. Since Vodafone and Idea have now merged their businesses, the new entity Vodafone Idea will have to bear the burden of both companies.

The regulator had stopped short of recommending cancellation of their telecom licences saying it may lead to significant consumer inconvenience.

TRAI's recommendation was based on a complaint by Reliance Jio that over 75 percent of calls on its network were failing as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea were not releasing sufficient number of PoIs.

Bloomberg Quint

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