NEW DELHI: Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the top decision-making body of the telecom department, has approved the penalty imposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for not providing Points of Interconnection (PoI) to the newest entrant in the telecom space — billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio. However, DCC has decided to seek TRAI’s views on revising the Rs 3,050 crore penalty, in the backdrop of severe financial stress in the sector.
“The DCC has approved imposition of penalty on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. However, the commission has decided to send the recommendations back to TRAI for their view on revising the quantum,” news agency PTI quoted an official source as saying.This newspaper tried reaching out to the two telecom firms seeking their future course of action, but the attempt did not elicit any response till the time the paper went to press.
DCC, however, is learnt to have disagreed with a proposal from one of the secretaries to penalise Reliance Jio, as the company has failed to deliver quality service to customers.TRAI had, in October 2016, recommended the penalty on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea for violating their licence agreements and denial of PoIs to the new player, Reliance Jio.
While the penalty recommended for Airtel and Vodafone was `1,050 crore each, it was `950 crore for Idea. Vodafone and Idea have since merged to form Vodafone Idea Ltd, the largest telecom company in India.
The TRAI recommendation came following a complaint by Reliance Jio that over 75 per cent of calls on its network were failing as the incumbent players were not releasing sufficient number of PoIs.
“A secretary from a nodal ministry said the penalty should be apportioned and applied on Reliance Jio as well. His question was whether the responsibility of providing quality of service by a primary licence holder should be shifted onto others. However, DCC members did not agree with the view to impose penalty on Jio,” said a source.