Amid ongoing war between incumbent and new telecom operators over interconnect issue, sector regulator Trai on Friday asked them to resolve the matter without compromising on service quality but Airtel continued to accuse Reliance Jio of abusing network by “tsunami of free traffic.”
Trai on Friday met Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea to discuss ongoing tussle over network interconnection, but barred officials of industry body COAI, which on the behalf of incumbents has been leading the fight against new player Reliance Jio, from the meeting.
According to sources, Trai Secretary Sudhir Gupta asked operators to resolve issue among themselves without compromising on quality of service norms laid down by the regulator.
Cellular operators association COAI claimed that players have agreed to discuss and negotiate “reasonable” points of connectivity that can be provided to Jio.
COAI said the operators will meet one-on-one to negotiate the “reasonable” incremental capacity to be provided to Reliance Jio, and following agreement will have 90 days to comply to the latter’s request for interconnection ports.
Despite the “constructive dialogue” on the matter, the largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel hit out at Mukesh Ambani’s telecom venture and asked Trai to find a way to curb the “massive asymmetric traffic” and ensure that receiving networks are not “abused by tsunami of free traffic”.
“In this regard, Interconnection Usage Charges is an effective tool in the hands of Trai, which we hope they will use judiciously,” Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
The issue of interconnectivity among telecom networks has become the flashpoint for one of the fiercest corporate battles in the sector.
Interconnection is required to enable mobile users to make calls to customers of other telecom networks, and is all-important for Reliance Jio which is scripting a disruptive entry into 4G market by offering free voice calls.
Reliance Jio, which commercially launched its services on September 5, has accused incumbent players for not releasing sufficient interconnection ports and had sought legal action against them.
Existing operators, however, have argued that they cannot release more ports as their networks are already under stress due to surge in traffic following free voice call offer by the Mukesh Ambani-led company.
Emerging from the hour-long meeting with Trai, Reliance Jio Infocomm Board Member Mahendra Nahata told reporters that “this is fight for justice, fight for customers”.