Reliance Jio issue: Airtel to approach Trai, DoT over proposed Rs1,000 crore penalty

Trai has recommended the DoT slap a penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular for not resolving interconnection issue with Reliance Jio


Airel maintains that the interconnection ports that it has provided per million of Reliance Jio customers is more that 2.5 times than any other operator. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Airel maintains that the interconnection ports that it has provided per million of Reliance Jio customers is more that 2.5 times than any other operator. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

New Delhi: Telecom operator Bharti Airtel Ltd on Wednesday said that it will approach government and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to clear the “confusion” that led to proposed penalty of over Rs1,000 crore on it for not providing interconnection facility to Reliance JIO Infocomm Ltd.

“We are aware of the proposed penalty. We believe there is confusion here. We will find a way to go back to Trai and department of telecommunications (DoT). We are very confident that the government will take a very objective position in the herculean efforts we have put to resolve this issue,” Bharti Airtel managing director and chief executive officer for India and South Asia Gopal Vittal said during an analyst call on Wednesday.

Trai has recommended the DoT to slap a total penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular Ltd for not resolving interconnection issue with Reliance Jio despite its direction that led to high call failure on laters network.

“It is part of our regulatory obligation that we provide connect. At the end of the day it is our job to fight in the market and serve customers better. So this is a non-issue,” Vittal said.

The Bharti Airtel CEO said that Jio announced on 31 August that they would launch services on 5 September. “There is a lot of augmentation that we have done on points of interconnect. We have never seen the kind of augmentation that we had to do this time,” Vittal said.

He said that the interconnection ports that Airtel has provided per million of customers is more that 2.5 times than that of any other operator in India. “The regulation allows you 90 days to complete the augmentation process. We have done it literally in 5 weeks,” Vittal said.

Talking about Airtel’s strategy to counter Reliance Jio’s free 4G mobile service, Vittal said it is very difficult to offer free service in response but the company will look at offering more bundled service like Jio is offering to counter threat from it. “We believe that when something is free there is only one way to compete, and that is to go and give it for free. It is very difficult. In that sense we are watching that space. Free stuff also has impact on quality of network. We are keeping track on that,” Vittal said.

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