India’s number one and three mobile players Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular agreed to provide 4G upstart Reliance Jio with additional interconnection points.
Airtel said in a statement it will expand interconnect access by threefold to support up to 15 million Jio customers, while Idea said it will release an additional 196 interconnection points, which is sufficient to handle calls from 6.5 million users, the Economic Times reported.
The agreement comes just days after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) told Jio and the three incumbents to work out a resolution and warned it would intervene if quality of service suffered.
For more than a month Jio has accused the country’s incumbent operators of deliberately sabotaging its entry by not providing it with adequate points of interconnection, which forced it to delay its commercial launch.
Jio issued a statement last night complaining that service quality had deteriorated significantly in the last few weeks, with more than 75 calls failing out of every 100 call attempts. In the last 10 days alone, it said 520 million calls have failed on the networks of the three leading incumbent operators, with 42 per cent on Airtel’s network.
Both Airtel and Idea said they expect a huge imbalance in inbound and outbound traffic, but Jio said voice traffic on its network is in line with industry trends for a new operator. “When a new operator begins, its customer base is understandably low. Therefore, in the early days of any new operator, there are more outgoing calls than incoming calls. Over time, as the customer base grows, this asymmetry reduces and the traffic becomes symmetric.”
Last month Jio requested 12,000 interconnection points to handle its expected 22 million customers, but the incumbents only gave it 1,400, the Times said.
The newcomer started commercial 4G operation across the country’s 22 service regions on 5 September, offering subscribers free unlimited LTE data and national voice, video and messaging services until the end of the year.
Its aggressive move will likely start a price war, with major rivals reportedly set to respond with packages that beef up their own data offerings.