Airtel, Reliance Jio trade charges again on points of interconnect

Airtel said that the capacity provided to Reliance Jio is ideal for serving over 190 million customers and is more than double of the 72.5 million customers claimed by Jio


Airtel said it has provided a total of over 35,000 points of interconnect (PoIs) to Reliance Jio in record time of just five months. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/ Mint
Airtel said it has provided a total of over 35,000 points of interconnect (PoIs) to Reliance Jio in record time of just five months. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/ Mint

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Ltd and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd traded charges on the number of the so-called points of interconnect (PoI) provided by the former to the latter.

These points enable calls from one network to terminate on another and Reliance Jio has consistently maintained that Bharti Airtel has not provided it with enough.

On Tuesday, after Bharti Airtel said it has provided 27,719 points of interconnect to Jio (over 35,000 including those for outgoing calls), Reliance Jio responded and said not more than 23,000 had been provided, resulting in 26 million long-distance calls from the Jio network failing everyday.

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Bharti Airtel said in its statement that the points of interconnect provided are “well above the customer growth projection provided by Jio to Airtel. The capacity provided is ideal for serving over 190 million customers on the Jio network and is more than double of the 72.5 million total customers currently claimed by Jio”.

Jio claimed in its statement that Airtel’s statement was part of a “mischievous and motivated” campaign “to divert attention from its anti-competitive” actions.

Airtel’s statement comes even as the telecom commission, the country’s apex telecom policy body, has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to explain the rationale behind penalizing the country’s top three telcos (Vodafone India, Idea Cellular, and Airtel) to the tune of Rs3,050 crore for not providing enough points of interconnects to Jio. The two firms are also slugging it out at the Competition Commission of India, the country’s anti-trust law regulator. Late last year, Reliance filed a complaint with the commission, alleging anti-competitive action by the three telcos named above. Earlier this week, Airtel struck back, filing a complaint with the commission against Reliance Jio for “predatory pricing”.

Jio is offering free services till 31 March 2017, around six months after its launch.

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Airtel has also moved the Telecom Disputes and Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), raising questions about the validity of the extension of Jio’s free offer period until March 2017 and accusing Trai of inaction against Jio.

Mumbai-based Jio has reached out to Trai, asking it to “impose the highest penalty on Airtel” and accusing the market leader of “misrepresenting the benefits” of its free unlimited calls and free data plans.

“The launch of free services by RJio has exerted pressure on the operating metrics of all telcos, wherein both voice and data Arpu (average revenue per user) and realizations have slipped,” Harsh Jagnani, sector head and vice-president (corporate ratings), ICRA, said in a note on Tuesday.

“Despite consolidation, the competition is unlikely to abate in the medium term, given the presence of dominant players with sizeable spectrum holdings and financial resources,” Jagnani added.

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