Mobile operators’ association COAI has told a parliamentary panel that its efforts to anchor a meeting over contentious inter-connect issue failed to take off after Jio held that its intervention is not warranted on a “bilateral matter”.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), is an industry association of GSM mobile service providers in India. COAI was constituted in 1995 as a registered, non-governmental society. The Association is dedicated to the advancement of modern communication through the establishment of world-class mobile infrastructure, products and services and to delivering the benefits of innovative and affordable mobile communication services to the people of India
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to Anurag Singh Thakur, Chairman of Standing Committee on Information Technology, saying COAI invited all members for a meeting on November 16, in line with the Committee’s “instruction” to attempt to resolve points of interconnect (PoI) issue.
“However, on... November 15, 2016, COAI received an e-mail from RJIL (Reliance Jio) stating that provision of PoIs is a subject matter which is inter se between the parties and RJIL has been regularly intimating relevant operators regarding the requirement and provisioning of PoIs,” sources said quoting from the letter dated November 24.
“And in the given circumstances, it will not be appropriate to discuss this issue at the broader COAI forum.”
As a result, the meeting was called off, the COAI letter said. COAI further pointed out that on November 16, it had once again asked RJIL to reconsider the stance and agree to a meeting as the industry body was “merely playing the role of getting the various operators together”.
“... However, once again, on November 17, RJIL reiterated that they desired to pursue all PoI-related discussions with the relevant operators directly and there was no need to have a meeting at COAI. RJIL submitted that COAI has no role to play in the matter,” the letter said.
The association further claimed that Jio indicated it would require written instructions from the Committee confirming COAI’s representation that such a meeting had indeed been called for.
“... in spite of the best efforts by COAI to comply with the direction of the SPC and convene a meeting to bring all members for resolution of the PoI dispute, such efforts have failed,” COAI regretted.
Jio, according to the COAI letter, has stated that the matter is bilateral in nature, PoI is governed by licence conditions, inter-connection is subject to enforcement by DoT and Trai and the former is already seized of the matter, adding that “COAI’s intervention is not warranted and is inappropriate on the matter”. .
COAI’s letter is a follow-up to November 10 meeting called by the standing committee on the issue of call drops and call failure. That meeting was attended by representatives of COAI and Reliance Jio, and the inter-connect issue too came up for discussion.
Relationship between COAI and Jio have soured in the last few months over interconnection-related issues.
Reliance Jio has accused incumbent operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular of not providing it with sufficient points of interconnect leading to massive call failures while the operators as well as COAI have blamed the free calls offered by the newcomer for the “tsunami of network traffic”.
In August this year, Jio had accused COAI of acting as “mouthpiece” of dominant incumbent operators, and in weeks following that, the two warring sides clashed once again when COAI dubbed Reliance Jio as a ‘Back Door Operator’. Jio hit back terming the COAI’s allegations as “defamatory”.
Matters came to a head on November 11, when Jio skipped the quarterly executive committee meeting of COAI - of which it is a member - saying its participation is possible only once the association re-hauls proportionate voting right rules currently based on revenue of member companies.
Retailers and distributers asked to accept old `500 currency for recharges: COAI
Amid complaints about non- acceptance of old Rs 500 notes for mobile recharges at some places, cellular operators body COAI has said the companies have given strict guidelines to accept these notes from customers but retailers and distributors cannot be forced. COAI Director General Rajan Mathews said that operators have provided strict guidelines to their distributors and retailers for accepting and processing Rs 500 demonetised notes so that no inappropriate activity, contrary to the objectives of the government, takes place. “However, these retailers and distributors cannot be forced to do something they do not want to do, if they believe the process is tedious.
“This is unfortunate for customers who wish to use these distributor and retailer points of sale and companies are disappointed with this companies can only encourage their distributors and retailers to follow the guidelines and assist customers who are facing difficulties obtaining currency from banks,” Mathews said.
He said that company-owned points of sale are accepting these notes and hopefully this will help reduce some of these problems for customers.
Government allowed use of old Rs 500 for pre-paid recharges to a limit of Rs 500 per recharge till December 15 after telecom operators requested it that dealers and distributors should be permitted to accept withdrawn notes till adequate replacement currency is available for the daily needs of ordinary citizens.
However, retailers said that company distributors and agents are not accepting old Rs 500 notes from them even as they are accepting them from customers along with ID proofs for recharges. “None of the companies is accepting old notes from us. So we are unable to entertain any customer if he comes with old Rs 500 note,” Jai Prakash, who runs mobile recharge shop in Nadesar area of Varanasi said.
Another retailer Nand Kumar Rai from Ghazipur said that telecom companies are accepting Rs 500 notes at their offices but not from retailers.
“Collection agents are saying that they don’t have time to fill up forms required for accepting Rs 500 notes. I am accepting every currency note number with ID card and mobile number details but agents are not ready for it,” Vinay Popli, a retailer in Basti district of Uttar Pradesh, said.
Anjeev Thakur, who runs a mobile recharge shop at Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, said, “Retailers here are accepting old Rs 500 notes along with valid IDs preferably for high value recharges due to shortage of change. Distributors are accepting new currency notes only, and we are depositing old notes in our own accounts.”