The tiff between the mobile operators and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) over the latter’s recent regulation mandating the former to monetarily compensate consumers for call drops is set to heighten. This is because Trai chairman R S Sharma on Thursday turned down the industry’s request to recall the order, as the industry saw it beyond the regulator’s jurisdiction and against the laws of physics and licence conditions.
Sharma said that the operators must prepare themselves to implement the regulation from January 1, even though he would legally examine whether the regulation can be reviewed.
“The operators must take steps to prepare themselves to implement this from January 1 next year. This (regulation on call drops) can neither be overturned by a competent authority, nor annulled, modified or cancelled,” Sharma said. “First, we will examine legally if Trai can review the decision or not and further decide the course of action,” he said, adding that the decision will be conveyed to telecom operators within two weeks.
According to the guidelines, telecom companies will have to compensate consumers Rs 1 for every call drop that occurs due to fault in their network, which is limited to a maximum of Rs 3 a day, per consumer.
The meeting on call drops was attended by Bharti Airtel India MD and CEO Gopal Vittal, Idea Cellular MD and CEO Himanshu Kapania, Vodafone India MD and CEO Sunil Sood, Reliance Jio Infocomm MD Sanjay Mashruwala, Industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) DG Rajan S Mathews and Association Of Unified Telecom Service Providers Of India (Auspi) secretary-general Ashok Sud, and representatives of other telecom companies
COAI’s Mathews said the industry will wait for next two weeks for Trai’s response and then would take a call if they need to move court or TDSAT. “As of now, the call drop timeline remains unchanged at January 1, 2016. We will wait for a response to our letter. We will review the responses then,” Mathews said after meeting the Trai chairman.
Reacting to telcos questioning Trai’s jurisdiction to impose such rules on them and the technical feasibility of its implementation, the Trai chairman said an impression is being created that Trai has imposed this regulation without considering the technical feasibility of its operation.
“Before issuing the regulation, the authority has considered all aspects of the matter, including technical feasibility,” Sharma p.