Reliance Jio has urged the Department of Telecom (DoT) to use only 4G technology for providing mobile connectivity in uncovered villages and the north-east region against the currently mandated conditions in the tenders floated by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to use 2G for voice and 4G for data.
Stating that high quality voice services can also be provided using 4G technology, Jio contended that by mandating 2G for voice and 4G for data, it is being excluded from participating in USOF tenders, sources said.
“This is regarding the extremely arbitrary, discriminatory, restrictive and retrograde terms and conditions being incorporated in USOF tenders, to use 2G for voice and 4G for data, which is a non-standard and wasteful requirement, whereas voice and data both can be provided by using a single technology,” Jio said in a letter to the DoT. FE has seen the letter.
Using the outdated and expensive 2G technology for voice and 4G for data increases the cost of service and restricts competition, preventing almost all licensed telecom operators from participating in these USO tenders, Jio said.
The operator said including such conditions in USOF tenders is resulting in “virtual monopoly” of incumbent dominant service providers, which will also cause huge loss to the government exchequer due to lack of competition in bidding process.
DoT sources said since tender conditions mandate a mix of 2G and 4G, Jio is not able to participate in the tenders as it offers voice and data over VoLTE.
“The same condition when extended in USO tenders for providing services in other uncovered villages will cause huge loss running into thousands of crore of rupees to the exchequer as the government will not be able to get competitive bids in these tenders,” Jio complained.
The operator has urged the DoT that USOF tenders should be “technology neutral” in line with the stated policies of the government. These tender should only prescribe service and coverage requirements along with the required KPIs to enable wider participation from operators in a fair and competitive manner so that the government can get competitive bids.
DoT is running projects for providing mobile connectivity in the north-eastern states, areas affected by Left wing extremism and in uncovered villages.