Telecom Commision seeks clarity from TRAI on Penalty issued to operators

Whether the regulator can recommend penalty under the mandate of the TRAI Act, 1997

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The Telecom Commission has recently asked department of telecom (DOT) to seek clarity from the Telecom Regulator TRAI on whether the regulator can impose penalty on the operators for violation for interconnect norms.

Telecom Commission asks Trai to clarify Rs 3050-crore fine

The penalty was recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for not providing adequate point of interconnection to new- entrant Mukesh Ambani Reliance Jio.

The Telecom Commission has asked DOT that the regulator can recommend penalty under the mandate of the TRAI Act, 1997 in relation of the interconnect violations and was if the telecom operators were given the 90-day period for providing these Point of Interconnections.

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Other issues that need clarification included whether the penalty amount was reached after calculating the network congestion on a monthly average basis and the fine being based upon the license as contract and not on the interconnection agreement between the operators, sources explained.

The issues have been raised based on the suggestions of the expert committee that was set up in the DoT last year to look into the R3,050 crore penalty on Bharti, Vodafone and Idea.

According to the regulator's recommendation, the penalty for Airtel and Vodafone would be around Rs. 1,050 crores each, while in case of Idea Cellular it comes to about Rs. 950 crores. But the regulator stopped short of recommending cancellation of their telecom licences saying it may lead to "significant consumer inconvenience".

TRAI also mentioned that denial of interconnection by these operators to Reliance Jio "appears to be with the ulterior motive to stifle competition and is anti-consumer."

However the blame game is not over yet between incumbents telecom players and the new- entrant Reliance Jio. Infact yersterday Jio blames Airtel for misleading statement on POIs

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