The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) told officials it was unable to recommend the reduction of a huge fine it wants levied on Bharti Airtel and the constituent parts of Vodafone Idea for hindering Reliance Jio’s access to interconnection points, Business Standard reported.
Its dismissal followed a request for a reassessment on the size of the charge, which amounted to INR30.5 billion ($445 million) in total, from India’s Digital Communications Commission (DCC).
TRAI said it was bound by rules restricting its ability to revisit recommendations which had already been submitted, the newspaper reported.
Last month the DCC backed TRAI’s conclusion Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular had restricted access to interconnection points by Reliance Jio during its formative months. This, TRAI argued, essentially formed a cartel and meant many of the calls on the newcomer’s network dropped.
However, given the current severe price-pressures facing mobile operators in the Indian market, the DCC called for the size of the penalties to be slashed from INR500 million per service area to between INR5 million and INR50 million.
Although the DCC has the final say, it had sought to get TRAI’s backing for making a reduction.
Since the entry of low-cost challenger Reliance Jio several of India’s operators have suffered sizable cuts in revenue and profit with some selling-up or merging operations.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back