DCC greenlights fines but asks TRAI to reconsider value of penalty

18 Jun 2019

The Digital Communications Commission (DCC) has approved plans to impose fines on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for denying newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) sufficient points of interconnection (PoI) when the cellco launched in September 2016, the Economic Times writes, citing people familiar with the matter. A senior official was quoted as saying, however, that the DCC ‘has decided to send the recommendation once again to the telecom regulator, to reconsider the amount of penalty since the sector is under financial distress’. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had previously recommended fines of INR500 million (USD7.15 million) per licence area, equating to a total of INR30.5 billion between the cellcos: INR10.5 billion each for Airtel and Vodafone plus INR9.5 billion for Idea Cellular, though Vodafone and Idea have since merged. According the official, the DCC felt that imposing the maximum penalty on the telcos was ‘very harsh’ and the fine could be reduced to INR50 million or INR5 million per circle.

Responding the development, an unnamed executive from one of the affected cellcos was quoted as saying that the fines would not be enforced by the courts: ‘Two clear points would help our case in court. One, PoIs need to be provided within 90 days of being asked for – they were provided in less than 45 days. Two, quality of service needs to be checked by monitoring a network for 30 days, while the TRAI fined us by monitoring services for one day.’