TRAI stands by ₹3050-crore penalty on 3 incumbent telcos

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"The said act of the incumbent TSPs (telecom service providers) has caused potential financial loss amounting to over Rs 400 crore to the government exchequer and in any event has caused a revenue shortfall of the said amount in FY 2016-17", Reliance Jio said in a letter to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT).

It also asserted that the provision of financial disincentive in the Authority's "Standards of Service of Basic Telephone Services (Wireline) and Cellular Mobile Telephone Service, Regulations 2009" does not prevent the Authority from exercising its mandate to make recommendations to the Government for wilful non-compliance of terms and conditions of license.

TRAI Decision Unchanged to Penalise Airtel, Idea and Vodafone: TRAI imposed Rs. 3050 crores penalty on Airtel, Idea and Vodafone for choking up the PoIs for Reliance Jio.

Compared to 1.2 million new customers in February, Airtel added 3 million new users in March; Idea added 2.1 million in March compared to 1.2 million in February, while 1.8 million new customers joined Vodafone in March, compared to 0.8 million in February.

"The Authority considered it appropriate to recommend penal action on Airtel (Vodafone or Idea) in view of the large public interest involved", TRAI said.

The matter was placed before an inter-ministerial panel, Telecom Commission, which chose to send reference back to TRAI and reconsider some of the points on which it had recommended the penalty. DoT had sought clarifications on several points, including the provision of law under which the amount was recommended.

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ET had first reported on May 13 that Trai would double down on its stand against DoT's objections. Airtel led the industry table with 2.85 million additions followed by Vodafone (0.76 million) and Idea at 0.68 million subscribers during April.

Trai also pulled up the DoT over its view in the reference note. Bharti Airtel said the Trai assessment is incorrect and appealed to DoT to reject it.

While Jio claimed that the incumbent telcos did not provide it with enough PoIs, Airtel has said Jio was creating an unnecessary controversy to mask its inadequacies.

On the point that Trai did not take into consideration incumbents' augmenting activities before issuing recommendations, the regulator said it did. It said "the fact is that we have provided PoIs to Jio at an unprecedented pace despite the provision of 90 days in the licence".

The matter was placed for before inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission which made a decision to sent reference back to Trai and reconsider some of the points on which it has recommended penalty.

"In this context, the denial and delay in providing PoIs when the quality of service (QoS) parameters were not being met can not be explained in any other manner but wilful", said Trai.