Accusing telecom regulator of adopting “unfair” policies to favour new entrants including Reliance Jio, industry body COAI has approached the Prime Minister’s Office on what they termed as Trai’s discrimination against existing operators.
The move comes at a time when allegations are flowing thick and fast between cellular operators and RJio, with COAI terming the latter’s testing of network as bypass of regulations, and the Mukesh Ambani firm returning fire saying the charge is a bid to block its full rollout.
In a letter sent today to Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary of PMO, the cellular association expressed “deep concern” over the discussion papers issued by sector regulator Trai, and said that alongwith the recent decisions, it pointed to a “pattern of discrimination against the existing mobile operators”.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has also sought a meeting with Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, and is slated to meet Secretary, Department of Telecom (DoT), JS Deepak tomorrow on the issue.
“In our meeting with Telecom Secretary, we will highlight the issue that we see Trai’s opinion tilting the playing field. DoT as a licensor is responsible for ensuring level playing field…,” Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Rajan S Mathews told PTI.
“In this context, we will also be taking up our concerns related to RJio,” he said.
In its letter to the PMO, COAI said: “It seems that some of the papers (by Trai) have been crafted at times to serve the interests of some new entrants in the sector, with complete disregard for the massive investments made by the existing operators.”
COAI further said the inconsistent policy framework will hurt investor sentiments, also impacting roll out of networks, and sought PMO’s intervention to resolve the issues.
Flagging issues like mobile termination charge, charges for termination of internet telephony calls and the recent proposal by Trai to tighten the call drop norms, COAI said the decisions and papers brought out recently were “regressive” in nature.
The regulatory decisions “bodes ill for investments, industry growth and customer service, and upsets the well established level playing field paradigm”, it said.
The cellular operators’ body has been up in arms over Trai’s paper on call connect charges and has questioned the regulator’s urgency in initiating the process of interconnect review, claiming that it “favours new entrants”.
COAI, which has members including Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone, on August 8 wrote to the DoT demanding that RJio immediately stop all connections provided to 1.5 million users because it had allegedly bypassed regulations by offering full-fledged services under the guise of test connections.
RJio hit back saying COAI charges were “malicious, unfounded, ill-informed, and frivolous and are contrary to actual facts” and was “promoting the vested interests of the incumbent dominant operators”.