Press Trust of India, 08 February 2017
Reliance Jio, which has disrupted the telecom sector with its free calls and services, has vehemently refuted market leader Airtel's claim that the former has not unable to activate and use to capacity the interconnect points the latter has provided to it. Airtel says that it has provided Reliance Jio enough interconnect points that can serve double the existing number of subscribers.
"The PoIs (Points of Interconnect) have been provided well above the customer growth projection provided by Jio to Airtel. The capacity provided is ideal for serving over 190 million customers on the Jio network and is more than double of the 72.5 million total customers currently claimed by Jio," Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
The Sunil Bharti Mittal-led telecom firm said it has provided a total of over 35,000 PoIs to Reliance Jio in "record time of just five months" and the latter has been unable to activate all the PoIs and utilise the capacity provided.
Jio called the statement "malicious and misleading" adding that it is a a continuation of Airtel's "ongoing mischievous and motivated campaign to divert attention from its anti-competitive and anti-consumer actions and violations of license conditions which are being investigated by the Authorities".
Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd (RJIL) said the fact is that over 2.6 crore NLD (STD) calls are still failing daily amounting to 53.4 percent call failure, as on January 31, 2017, as against TRAI norm of 0.5 percent.
"Airtel's claim of having provided 35,000 POIs to Jio is misleading given that in reality, it has not even done port allocation (first step of implementation) for over 1,100 of these POIs. Airtel continues to issue demand notes for these POIs to slow down the process, whereas no payment is due under the Interconnection Agreement," Reliance Jio said.
Jio said there has been no delay from its side in activating PoIs – which is required for connecting calls between network of telecom operators.
Airtel slammed Jio's complaint on PoIs and said that it appears to be "aimed at covering up technical issues in their own network or their inability to activate the PoIs given" which was refuted by Reliance Jio.
"On the contrary, due to continued non-compliance of TRAI's tariff orders by Jio by providing free services for the past 5-6 months, there is a tsunami of incoming voice traffic on the Airtel network, thereby, impacting the service experience of our customers," said Bharti Airtel, which has 265.8 million subscribers.
Airtel said that the capacity provided to Reliance Jio is much more than comparable capacity provided by it to other firms.
"Vodafone with 202 million customers has been provided a total of approximately 40,600 PoIs by Airtel over a period of 21 years. Of these 23,950 PoIs are for incoming calls – much less than what has been provided to Jio," it said.
Reliance Jio called it an arbitrary comparison as traffic from no two operators will be alike.
"Airtel did not invest in new technologies and is now trying to prevent customers from enjoying benefits of superior service offered by a new operator, while misleading customers and causing reputational damage to RJIL by claiming that there are technical issues in RJIL network," Reliance Jio said.
It added that India's telecom sector tends to progress due to disruptive innovation brought in by newcomers, but unfortunately, Airtel is trying to block such initiatives.
Airtel emphasised the "huge asymmetry in traffic" due to Jio's free offers has also resulted in "complete failure" of the present IUC (Interconnection Usage Charges) regime, which assumes nearly symmetric traffic while fixing the below cost termination charge.
"The present termination charge of 14 paise is less than half of the actual cost of terminating calls on the network, resulting in huge loss to the company," it said.
Jio replied that Airtel's insinuation that it has not complied with telecom regulator TRAI's tariff orders is bizarre and defamatory considering that the regulator categorically stated that Reliance Jio tariffs are compliant with the tariff orders of TRAI and other applicable regulations.
On IUC allegations, Jio said that Airtel's statement that IUC regime assumes symmetric traffic is "funny to say the least".
IUC is paid by one operator to other for connecting calls of their subscribers with customers outside their network. If the traffic is symmetric, the earnings and payments towards IUC cancel out each other and there need not be any IUC charges, Jio said.
"Further, Airtel's cry for higher IUC stems from the inability to retain customers by providing telecom services at cheaper cost. Seemingly, Airtel wants other operators to subsidise its operations," Jio said.
It added that Airtel is once again trying to portray that it has done a favour by providing PoIs to Reliance Jio, whereas it may be noted that all operators have a mandatory and unconditional obligation under the license to provide adequate PoIs to all the other operators.