Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel battle escalates


Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel continue to be at loggerheads with the Mukesh Ambani-led firm now alleging that more than two crore calls are failing daily between the two networks due to insufficient number of interconnection points provided by Bharti Airtel.

However, Bharti Airtel hit back denying all allegations, stating that deficiencies in Reliance Jio’s own network are causing the call failures.

Alleging that the country’s largest telecom operator was abusing its leadership position, Reliance Jio said: “It appears that the quality of service will continue to suffer and Indian customers will be denied the benefits of superior and free voice services as a result of such anti-competitive behaviour.”

Jio’s statement follows Airtel’s announcement on Saturday committing to additional point of interconnect (PoIs) to Jio, sufficient to serve over 15 million customers.

‘Substantially less’

However, Jio said that the quantum of POIs proposed to be released by Airtel is “substantially less” than the requirement. “Based on the current traffic flow between the two networks, the proposed augmentation by Airtel would still only suffice for less than one-fourth of the required interconnection capacity,” Jio’s statement said.

It added that “…two crore calls are failing everyday between the two networks as Airtel dilly-dallies on adequate PoIs to Jio. This is far in excess of quality of service parameters and of alarming proportions.”

While rejecting all charges, Bharti Airtel, in a statement said, “…it is Jio that seems to be dilly-dallying on the issue and not co-operating deliberately.”

Bharti Airtel’s statement said that it appeared that the constant rhetoric by Jio may be a ploy by the latter to “cover up some technical issues in their own network, which is causing call failures, by constantly blaming other operators.” In addition, “call drops or the lack of VoLTE stabilisation should not be hidden behind the issue of PoIs, which are being augmented at regular and quick intervals,” it added.

Bharti Airtel stressed that the proposed addition of PoIs would be sufficient to serve over 15 million customers, which is much more than Jio’s present subscriber base and “the10 million projected customers.”

An additional statement from Jio late on Sunday pointed out that there were no call failures within its own network and termed Bharti’s statement as ‘misleading’ and ‘unfortunate’. Jio has called for an inspection by independent third parties to confirm that there are zero call failures on the Jio network. It also asked its customers to “encourage the receiving party to switch to the Jio network…so that they do not suffer due to such anti-competitive practices being followed by the incumbent operators.”

Jio further added that since it is the ‘aggrieved party’ there is no question of any delay, ‘not even of a few hours,’ in taking any steps at their end.

The additional PoIs, Bharti Airtel said, now need to be physically connected and tested by both parties. “We have already requested Jio’s co-operation in this regard. Airtel’s network teams across circles are ready and waiting for Jio to commence the testing.”.

Earlier this month, telecom regulator TRAI had tried to broker peace between Jio and the existing operators by calling a meeting to resolve the contentious issue of interconnect points. Post the meeting, operators had expressed willingness to talk and provide a “reasonable number” of additional PoIs. “It is unfortunate that TRAI’s intervention was required for Airtel to resume augmentation of POIs. TRAI regulation does not provide for 90 days to adhere to Quality of Service parameters,” Jio said.

Blocking portability

Jio further alleged that Airtel had been blocking the mobile number portability facility, for its subscribers wanting to move to the Jio network, on baseless and unsubstantiated grounds. “This is again an anti-competitive move aimed at stifling a new operator. This is against public interest and fair play,” it said.

Bharti Airtel replied saying it was processing all requests as per norms. “Airtel ports-in and ports-out thousands of customers every day from across operators, and the allegation of blocking 69-odd port-out requests from Jio sounds rather flimsy.” Jio’s response noted, “It cannot be a coincidence that not even a single request to port to Jio has been approved by Airtel.”

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