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Last Updated : Oct 24, 2016 09:38 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

TRAI penalty on telcos is huge; I am disappointed: Rajan Mathews

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended a penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for allegedly violating licence norms by denying adequate interconnection points to Reliance Jio Infocomm.


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended a penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for allegedly violating licence norms by denying adequate interconnection points to Reliance Jio Infocomm.


Speaking to CNBC-TV18 about this penalty, Rajan Mathews, Director-General of COAI, said he was disappointed by the amount of recommended penalty. “It is a large amount for operators,” he said, adding that COAI is not involved at this point, as it is a bilateral issue between operators and TRAI.

He also said that this quantum of penalty such as been imposed on operators has never before been given for issues like the point of interconnect.

Below is the verbatim transcript of Rajan Mathews’ interview to Latha Venkatesh & Sonia Shenoy on CNBC-TV18.

Latha: The recommendations coming from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) mean quite a huge penalty for the operators who apparently have failed to provide interconnect. Will this go as is or do you think the operators will contest it?

A: We are disappointed that the amount of the recommended penalty that has been imposed is very large amount for the operators. The TRAI has made some recommendation to the Department of Telecom (DoT); the DoT will obviously review this in the context of the licence conditions and then take a call so we will have to wait and see.

Latha: You will wait to hear from the DoT or you all will proactively make a recommendation or a plea to the DoT?

A: At this particular point, COAI is not directly involved. This is a bilateral issue between operators and the responses from the individual operators to TRAI’s 'show cause' notice is a bilateral issue between the TRAI and the operators. We as COAI don’t get involved at that level and so we don’t that particular reasons and rationale that TRAI has used to come to its conclusion that there was a failure to provide adequate points of interconnect (POI). So, POIs have been provided, the issue is that the quality of service between the operators has not met the quality of the standards determined by TRAI.

Sonia: Have there been past instances of such a high levy imposed on any of these telecom companies and how have the telecom companies reacted in the past?

A: Certainly, this quantum of levy penalty has not been imposed on a situation such as points of interconnect. Previously, points of interconnect had been sorted out between the operators and so this large quantum obviously is coming as a bit of a surprise. So, we will see what the DoT has to do in terms of the recommendations but certainly this is clearly not a usual type of a penalty amount that has been imposed.

Latha: In the past has DoT a record of reviewing what the TRAI has recommends or does it normally toe the line?

A: No, the DoT has always exercised its own judgement in terms of the review of the recommendations made by TRAI at a several instances when pricing for example on spectrums has been modified based on the initial recommendations. The DoT obviously takes that up all the way to the telecom commission. The telecom commission is a multi department represented organisation or a committee and so there is a review process to ensure that the recommendation is appropriate and the conclusion is the best as in many instances have been modified from the initial suggestion adopted by TRAI.

(Disclosure: RIL, which owns Reliance Jio, also owns Network18 and moneycontrol.com).

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First Published on Oct 24, 2016 08:51 am
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