DoT to hear Airtel, Idea, Vodafone pleas against Trai's Rs 3,050-cr penalty

The department of telecommunications (DoT) would soon hear the pleas filed by leading telecom service providers Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai's) recommendation of October last year that a Rs 3,050-crore cumulative penalty be imposed on them for allegedly denying sufficient points of interconnection (PoIs) to Reliance Jio Infocomm, according to a news report in Livemint.

The telecom department had asked the operators to make their presentation by December 6. However, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have raised a request to defer the meeting and Vodafone has not yet responded, according ot a senior DoT official quoted in the Livemint report.

In a complaint to Trai last year, Reliance Jio had alleged that a large number of calls on its network were failing as incumbent operators were not providing sufficient points of interconnection.

Based on this complaint, Trai had in October last year recommended to the government that a penalty of Rs 1,050 crore each be imposed on Airtel and Vodafone, and Rs 950 crore on Idea.

In February, the Telecom Commission -- the highest decision-making body at DoT -- sought clarifications from the regulator about the basis for calculating the penalty and provisions of the law under which the penalty had been recommended.

In response, Trai had in May this year defended its stand and stated that the licence agreement mandated that the licensee has to be responsible for maintaining quality of service as mandated by the licenser or Trai, and any violation is liable to be treated as breach of terms and conditions of the licence.

Trai also mentioned that while non-compliance of terms and conditions of the licence warranted the revocation of the licence, Trai recommended a penalty as a revocation of licence would cause inconvenience to consumers.

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