Continuing with its letter war against free-voice-call-provider Reliance Jio, the association of telecom operators like Airtel has told Prime Minister’s Office that incumbents are “not obliged to entertain interconnect requests” that are “anti-competitive”.
Telecom operators’ body COAI has written to the PMO seeking its intervention on the issue to “restore fair competition”.
“They (operators) wish to politely clarify that they are in no position, by way of network resources, or financial resources, to terminate volumes of traffic which are markedly asymmetric. Neither are they obliged to entertain interconnect requests which are derived from abnormal induced traffic patterns that game the IUC regime and are anti-competitive,” COAI said in a letter to the PMO.
Reliance Jio, which commercially launched its services on September 5, has accused incumbent players like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone of not releasing sufficient interconnection ports during its test run of services.
The existing operators (under the aegis of COAI) have contended that RJio’s testing of network was an effort to bypass regulations.
Speaking at the AGM of Reliance Industries, its chief Mukesh Ambani had said Reliance Jio customers suffered 5 crore call failures in the previous week to other networks due to insufficient interconnect capacity.
Interestingly, RJio is also a member of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).
The letter, addressed to Principal Secretary of PMO Nripendra Misra, does not reflect the views of RJio, Aircel and Telenor, it said.
Referring to the free voice calls by RJio as a “free lunch”, COAI said RJio seeks to pass the “overwhelming burden” on to rival operators through tariff manipulations which “exploit and game the IUC regime”.
“(RJio seeks to) offload tsunamis of asymmetric voice traffic at IUC terms which will choke and financially destroy competition. IUC regimes anywhere in the world are meant to facilitate fair competition, and are not designed for such abuses,” COAI said.
The body said the free call offer by the new operator will result in the total voice minutes generated by RJio alone to be equivalent to those generated by all other Indian operators put together.
“…in a very short time, other operators will have to handle voice traffic which is double their total present traffic. Of course, this is fanciful, because networks would have collapsed earlier,” it said.
COAI added that the huge volume of traffic from RJio will pull down the weighted average voice realisation for other operators from 30-40 paise to 22-25 paise per minute or lower, making it financially difficult for other telecom firms to operate.