TRAI meets telcos over interconnect issue, COAI kept out

New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) The Indian telecom regulator on Friday met service providers — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular — to discuss the issue of mobile network interconnection among various players, but allegedly barred Cellular Operators’ Association of India’s (COAI) officials from participating in the meeting.

After the meeting with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Reliance Jio Infocomm Board Member Mahendra Nahata told reporters: “This is a fight of justice for the Indian customer. This is not about Jio customer, Idea customer, Voda customer or Airtel customer.”

He said they did not ask anyone to leave the meeting. “We just said that the meeting should be attended by those who have been invited by the TRAI,” he added.

However, Rajan S. Mathews, Director-General of COAI, said the association “has been kept out of the TRAI meeting at the insistence of Reliance Jio and TRAI acquiesced to their demand in an unprecedented manner.”

It is learnt that the service providers have decided to meet soon and discuss interconnect issues among themselves and specify the number of Points-of-Interconnect (PoI) each has to provide to Reliance Jio.

According to sources, each service provider will reach a separate bilateral agreement with Reliance Jio to provide the latter with points of interconnect.

“As a responsible company, Bharti Airtel has always provided Points-of-Interconnect to other operators and is fully compliant with all regulatory guidelines and licence conditions. None of the new operators, who have launched services in the last few years, have faced any PoI related issues with Airtel,” the company said in a statement.

“Following the commercial charging of services by Reliance Jio, which is expected by Jan 1, 2017, the traffic will inevitably get to a more balanced level and PoIs will be less of an issue. In the interim, we continue with our efforts to augment the hundreds of PoIs already given to Reliance Jio, as per the bilateral agreement, so that customers are not inconvenienced,” the company added.

Earlier Jio had said that interconnection points provided by other operators were not sufficient.

“Based on industry practice, 12,500 E1 ports (interconnect points, with technical parameters) are required for 22 million subscribers, which details have been provided to the COAI member operators,” said a Reliance Industries statement on August 18.

“As against this, the top 3 operators have released only 1,400 ports so far,” the company said. A rough calculation suggests Jio, as per the above, would need a little over 8,500 ports given a subscriber base of 15 million.

“It is grossly incorrect to suggest that sufficient number of ports have been given to support 15 million users. This is reflected in the experience in the field where over 65 per cent of calls to networks of the top 3 operators are failing today,” said the Jio statement.

Reliance Jio had officially launched its services on September 5.

–IANS

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