India’s 4G upstart Reliance Jio will hold talks with the country’s three largest mobile operators this week in an attempt to ease tension and request that they expand interconnect access for its recently launched services.
Jio will meet individually with Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular to encourage them to give it more interconnection points as it is facing quality of service issues, mainly in the form of dropped calls.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last Friday asked Jio and the three incumbents to work out a resolution and warned it would intervene if quality of service suffered.
According to the Economic Times, the top three players, which expect an imbalance in inbound and outbound traffic, are likely to press for a higher mobile termination charge than the fixed INR0.14/minute ($0.0021) rate set by the regulator.
India’s leading operators last week fuelled the heated war of words with Jio, stating they are not obliged or in a position to provide sufficient interconnection points as they don’t have the capacity or financial resources to handle a pending surge in voice traffic.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) claimed that the ratio of incoming-to-outgoing traffic is normally 1:1, but was 10:1 in Jio’s beta trials, and it expressed concern it would climb to 15:1 as Jio’s subscriber base increased. Jio has set a long-term target of 100 million subscribers.
The Times said Jio is likely to ask for 6,500-7,000 additional interconnection points immediately. The request is based on its traffic growth estimates. 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.
Room for five
Jio last week started commercial 4G operation across the country’s 22 service regions, offering subscribers free unlimited LTE data and national voice, video and messaging services until the end of the year. Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, said last week he believes India is big enough to sustain competition from up to five operators.
In early August, Jio 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. COAI kicked off the row a month ago when it claimed the operator was offering a full-blown mobile service disguised as a trial.