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COAI attacks government through TRAI for favouring Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio over spectrum auction
Manoj Gairola |  |  09 Aug 2016

The official announcement of the largest Spectrum auction in India, on Monday, was over shadowed by the incumbent Mobile Operators attacking the government through the regulator by accusing the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) of favouring Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has said that the government had reduced block size of the Spectrum in 2300 MHz band to 10 MHz to favour Reliance Jio.

“….the bias is also evident from the fact that TRAI in an unprecedented move reduced the block size of 2300 MHz band spectrum from 20 MHz to 10 MHz, only to accommodate existing BWA holders who would have otherwise crossed the band specific cap beyond 30 MHz,” wrote COAI in a press release issued on Monday.

Reliance Jio is the only operator that has pan India 2300 MHz band. It would not have been eligible to bid for the Spectrum in 2300 MHz band if the block size for the auction was 20 MHz.

If COAI wanted to highlight the recent moves of TRAI to “favour’ Reliance Jio, it has succeeded in drawing attention of media and the government. It is yet to be debated the decisions really favoured a particular company.

“…some of the recent decisions and policy consultations undertaken by TRAI have left the Industry worried, as these appear to be distorting the level-playing field within the sector and are regressive in nature,” said Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI.

“A clear, stable and predictable policy environment is the cornerstone of any ‎regulatory regime that fosters industry growth and customer services. Over the past few months, the industry has seen an unprecedented deluge of discussion papers from TRAI. Some of the consultation papers appear to be heavily loaded in favour of new players and point towards a bias against the existing operators. We hope that TRAI will take a more balanced view on issues impacting the entire industry and ensure a level-playing field.”

In the press release, the COAI has pointed out many instances where the TRAI has “favoured” Reliance Jio.

It has said that the urgency shown by the TRAI in reviewing the mobile termination charges is surprising “….with the consultation process initiated at such an early date and despite the fact that the matter is sub-judice in various courts of law. It appears that the exercise is aimed at hurting the financial and operational viability of existing operators.”

Regulation of the charges for termination of Internet Telephony calls without even finalising the routing and numbering framework will favour new operators.

Further, the call drop regulation, which has been finally set aside by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, far from working to address the quality issue, was a draconian measure built to financially penalize and foster perceptions, which discredit existing mobile operators in order to perhaps favour new players with empty data networks.

Note: In the above article we have not gone into merits of the arguments of COAI or TRAI or Reliance Jio.

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09 Aug 2016(IST)  
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