Mobile operators’ association COAI has told a parliamentary panel that its efforts to anchor a meeting over contentious interconnect issue failed to take off after Jio held that its intervention is not warranted on a “bilateral matter”.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to Anurag Singh Thakur, Chairman of Standing Committee on Information Technology, saying COAI invited all members for a meeting on November 16, in line with the Committee’s “instruction” to attempt to resolve points of interconnect (PoI) issue.
“However, on… November 15, 2016, COAI received an e-mail from RJIL (Reliance Jio) stating that provision of PoIs is a subject matter which is inter se between the parties and RJIL has been regularly intimating relevant operators regarding the requirement and provisioning of PoIs,” sources told PTI quoting from the letter dated November 24.
“And in the given circumstances, it will not be appropriate to discuss this issue at the broader COAI forum.” As a result, the meeting was called off, the COAI letter said.
COAI further pointed out that on November 16, it had once again asked RJIL to reconsider the stance and agree to a meeting as the industry body was “merely playing the role of getting the various operators together”.
“… However, once again, on November 17, RJIL reiterated that they desired to pursue all PoI-related discussions with the relevant operators directly and there was no need to have a meeting at COAI. RJIL submitted that COAI has no role to play in the matter,” the letter said.
The association further claimed that Jio indicated it would require written instructions from the Committee confirming COAI’s representation that such a meeting had indeed been called for.
“… in spite of the best efforts by COAI to comply with the direction of the SPC and convene a meeting to bring all members for resolution of the PoI dispute, such efforts have failed,” COAI regretted.
Jio, according to the COAI letter, has stated that the matter is bilateral in nature, PoI is governed by licence conditions, interconnection is subject to enforcement by DoT and TRAI and the former is already seized of the matter, adding that “COAI’s intervention is not warranted and is inappropriate on the matter”.
COAI’s letter is a follow-up to November 10 meeting called by the standing committee on the issue of call drops and call failure. That meeting was attended by representatives of COAI and Reliance Jio, and the interconnect issue too came up for discussion.
Relationship between COAI and Jio have soured in the last few months over interconnection-related issues.
Reliance Jio has accused incumbent operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular of not providing it with sufficient points of interconnect leading to massive call failures while the operators as well as COAI have blamed the free calls offered by the newcomer for the “tsunami of network traffic”.
In August this year, Jio had accused COAI of acting as “mouthpiece” of dominant incumbent operators, and in weeks following that, the two warring sides clashed once again when COAI dubbed Reliance Jio as a ‘Back Door Operator’. Jio hit back terming the COAI’s allegations as “defamatory”.
Matters came to a head on November 11, when Jio skipped the quarterly executive committee meeting of COAI – of which it is a member – saying its participation is possible only once the association re-hauls proportionate voting right rules currently based on revenue of member companies.