Mobile phone telecommunications towers stand in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Telecom Regulator Issues Changes To Interconnect Regulations; Tweaks Norms

Nearly two months after it sought the industry's views on the matter, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today prescribed amendments to the interconnect regulations, proposing certain changes in terms and conditions for an operator to seek fresh call connect ports from other telecom companies.

TRAI had sought views and comments from the industry by May 18 on these draft regulations.

According to the Telecommunication Interconnection (Amendment) Regulations, 2018, TRAI has said that a service provider can ask another operator for additional ports in case the projected utilisation of the capacity at the interconnect point is likely to exceed 85 percent over a 60-day period.

The time-frame for provisioning of ports for initial interconnection and augmentation of ports at Points of Interconnect is increased to 42 working days.
TRAI Statement

It said every operator will have to give a forecast of outgoing call traffic of busy hours for each interconnect point once every six months, which means April 1 and Oct. 1 each year, to the interconnecting service provider.

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

"...the first such forecast shall be provided within sixty days of the commencement of the Telecommunication Interconnection (Amendment) Regulations, 2018 and thereafter on the 1st April and 1st October every year," the TRAI statement said.

The issue of inter-connectivity had emerged as a major flashpoint between Reliance Jio and old telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, at the time when Jio 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.

Also read: Court Denies Interim Relief To Airtel, Idea On Interconnect Charges

In 2016, TRAI had also recommended imposing Rs 1,050 crore penalty each on Airtel and Vodafone and 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.