More reports on: Telecom

Idea moves HC against proposed Trai penalty over PoI issue

25 January 2017

Idea Cellular on Tuesday moved the Delhi High Court against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendation to impose a penalty of Rs950 crore on it for not providing adequate interconnection to Reliance Jio Infocomm.

In its filing in the high court, Idea has claimed it had complied with and met the requirements of Jio for points of interconnections (PoIs).

Giving details of its arrangement with Jio, Idea has said that as of 19 January, it had allocated as many as 19,175 PoIs to the new entrant and said that congestion and call failures on Jio's network were a consequence of the telco's own ''gross underestimation'' of the volume, traffic and duration of calls owing to the free voice calls and data offer.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), however, argued that Idea's petition was not maintainable as Trai had only given a recommendation.

The matter came up for hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, who appeared for the DoT, opposed Idea's plea on the ground that it was premature since no action had been taken yet on the telecom regulator's 21 October 2016 recommendation.

The bench thereafter issued notices to both the telecom regulator and the DoT, asking them to file affidavits on the issue of maintainability of Idea's plea before the next date of hearing on 21 February.

In December last year, Vodafone had challenged Trai's recommendation to DoT to impose Rs1,050 crore penalty on it on Jio's complaint.

The matter is at currently pending before another bench of the high court where DoT and Trai have contended that the plea was not maintainable.

Trai had recommended imposition of Rs50 crore penalty per circle on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, which came to Rs1,050 crore for Airtel and Vodafone each and Rs950 crore on Idea.

The regulatory authority had said that Airtel, Idea and Vodafone's denial to Jio appeared to be with the ulterior motive to stifle competition and that it was anti-consumer in nature.

Idea and Airtel have separately filed applications at the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) urging it to direct the telecom regulator to ask Jio to stop the free voice and data services as it was ''predatory'' and against the telecom tariff orders passed by the regulator itself.

Jio on its part has taken the three incumbents to the competition commission, claiming that they were stifling its entry into the telecom sector by not allowing adequate PoIs. The matter will come up for preliminary hearing on 31 January.

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