Reaching out to the Prime Minister’s Office once again to resolve the issue of Reliance Jio Infocomm's test launch of services, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) on Monday urged the authorities to act against “the issue of unauthorised commercial services described as tests” by the new operator, as it was resulting in revenue loss for the incumbents as well as the government.
Reaching out to the Prime Minister’s Office once again to resolve the issue of Reliance Jio Infocomm’s test launch of services, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) on Monday urged the authorities to act against “the issue of unauthorised commercial services described as tests” by the new operator, as it was resulting in revenue loss for the incumbents as well as the government.
“The non-compliances are wide-ranging and we trust the authorities will act expeditiously to investigate the matter, enforce regulatory and licensing clarity with operators and thus establish a level playing field to the benefit of the government, operators and consumers,” COAI director general Rajan S Mathews wrote to Nripendra Misra, principal secretary at the PMO.
The COAI said the views expressed were of the majority members such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, without naming them and that Reliance Jio which is also a member has a divergent view on the issue.
The latest missive comes days after Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani met the telecom secretary and the regulator to update them on the launch plans, following complaints by the incumbents through COAI, saying that the free services are choking their networks.
Reiterating that the incumbents should not be expected to provide interconnection for free, COAI said, “If the operator subsidises pseudo free minutes to millions of test users on their own network, that is between them and the authorities, but it should not be expected that other operators will further cross-subsidise this pseudo traffic through demands for unreasonable network resources on their networks”.
COAI further said the data traffic generated by Reliance Jio’s beta tests “is rivalling the combined traffic” of the incumbents who have been operating for 15/20 years, “is using spectrum allocated for commercial use on a revenue share principle (designed to provide revenue to the government), yet statedly yielding no revenue and consequently no share to the government”. This is even as Reliance Jio bundling of handsets with services to millions of users and “fetching crores of rupees, making them large scale nationwide commercial operations for months,” it said.
The communique also mentions that the bundling is now extended beyond Reliance’s LYF handsets with free data and voice services and is available without bundling, indirectly pointing to Samsung and LG offering a preview for RJio services. “But that is sterile, because post-launch of commercial operations, it is not possible to conduct pre-launch beta testing,” COAI added.