COAI asks TRAI not to assist Reliance Jio with its telecom guidelines

COAI director general Rajan Mathews on spectrumCOAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) says telecom regulator TRAI is further assisting 4G operator Reliance Jio with the latest direction announced on February 16, 2018.

COAI says the recent amendment to Telecom Tariff Order (TTO) will further damage the ailing industry.

ALSO READ: Latest news from Mobile World Congress 2018

Indian mobile operators excluding Reliance Jio Infocomm do not understand the rush on the part of TRAI to issue the TTO amendment without following due process in compliance with TDSAT’s recent judgment.

TRAI has modified the definition of Significant Market Power (SMP) to exclude parameters like traffic volume and switching capacity for determining SMP. TRAI earlier considered these parameters as criteria.

“As a result, Reliance Jio Infocomm may be free to offer any sort of predatory tariffs while older operators are now subject to regulation and cannot compete without falling foul of a new definition of what constitutes predatory pricing,” COAI said.

COAI represents telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone India, among others.

COAI said TRAI has effectively snatched the mobile operators’ right to compete in the Indian telecom market. Older operators will be challenged on the basis of revised definition of SMP so as to be prevented from responding to what may be actual “predatory tariff plans”. They will find it difficult to offer any discounts/provide benefits to retain their customers if a competitor choses to poach them.

COAI said several regulations by TRAI in the recent past distorted the competitive landscape in favour of Jio, while putting all other operators at serious disadvantage. This has destroyed the financials of an industry.

Rajan Mathews, director general, COAI, said: “We request the Government to intervene and look into these concerns on an urgent basis and ensure a financially healthy and vibrant telecom industry that is able to support Digital India and serve customers.”

During the latest consultation with TRAI private operators excluding Reliance Jio supported discounted / customized offerings in different forms to customers. But TRAI has chosen to ignore the opinion of the entire industry to go with the suggestion of Reliance Jio. TRAI has copy pasted the demands of Reliance Jio across a range of definitions in the new TTO.

While reducing the mobile termination charge the regulator ignored the adverse impact on the same on rural coverage and on investments made in those areas. This alone lost incumbent operators over Rs 15,000 crore per annum and benefited Reliance Jio by nearly Rs 10,000 crore.

TRAI has recently reduced the international termination charge from 53 paisa per minute to 30 paisa per minute. COAI said this impacts Indian consumers and lower forex revenues to the Government to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore and has again been supported only by Reliance Jio.