Following up on its commitment last week on issue of interconnect points, the country’s biggest operator, Bharti Airtel, on Tuesday said it would provide three times more PoIs (points of interconnect) to Reliance Jio than it currently provides, a development that would enable the new operator to support more than 15 million subscribers.
The additional PoIs would translate into roughly 1900 points, given that Bharti had already provided around 600 points during Reliance Jio’s pilot launch since December last year, though the company did not specify a number.
“Airtel had extended an invitation to Jio to discuss its requirement of additional PoIs,” the company said in a statement. “Airtel is a responsible organisation committed to complying with the regulations and the interconnect agreements in letter and spirit and will continue to be so”, it added.
At the same time, Bharti said it has to take into cognisance that the quality of services for its subscribers do not get affected because of the huge traffic from Reliance Jio’s offer of free phone calls to its users and terminating on its network creating congestion. In this regard, Bharti hopes that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will look into the issue on “an urgent basis”.
Bharti’s stand on Tuesday was reiteration of its statement on Friday, saying that while Reliance Jio plans to start billing its consumers from January 1, 2017, “the traffic will inevitably get to a more balanced level and PoIs will be less of an issue”. The firm said it continues with its efforts to provide PoIs to Reliance Jio “so that customers are not inconvenienced”.
Bharti’s offer comes a day after Idea Cellular, the country’s third-biggest operator , gave an additional 196 points of interconnection to Jio to help the new entrant expand its capacity to 6.5 million users, which provides for a buffer of 119% against the August subscriber volumes generated by 2.97 million unique Jio subscribers who terminated calls on the Idea network.
The development assumes significance, as Trai had on Friday brokered peace between the top three operators — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular — over providing additional PoIs to Jio for supporting at least 10 million users.