10 August, New Delhi
The extensive tests being carried out for Jio 4G services before a full-fledged launch not only have legal sanctity, but are also aimed at ensuring high quality offering in a market where call drops have become common place, Reliance Industries has said.
Taking umbrage at a series of remarks by the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), which represents incumbents, the company said such action pointed to an unwarranted vilification campaign, not only against Reliance Jio but also the industry regulator.
“At the outset, the contents of the said letter from COAI are malicious, unfounded, ill-informed, and frivolous and are contrary to actual facts,” said two letters from the company, one addressed to the Telecom Commission and the other to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
The COAI, in a letter to the Telecom Commission and subsequent comments, had charged Reliance Jio with having already launched a full commercial service in the garb of test runs, and accused the regulator of discrimination against the existing mobile operators.
“The said letter from COAI, prima facie, appears to be an exercise with the ulterior motive of promoting the vested interests of the incumbent dominant operators,” said Reliance Jio in the letters of eight pages each.
“Further, the COAI has deliberately indulged in an unwarranted vilification campaign, not only against RJIL (Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd), but also against TRAI, the regulator, through various media reports, without any basis whatsoever.”
The association further said that Jio’s tests, with as many as 1.5 million users and growing, are also choking the points of inter-connect between the new player and the incumbents, as the volume of data are around 25-30 times the Indian average and 8-10 times the global benchmarks.
But Jio countered saying, despite keeping the regulator and the Department of Telecom informed about the points of inter-connect, it was not being provided with adequate access to terminate the calls/data — an issue, which was raised at various forums.
“In fact, during the test trial process, there have been severe quality issues on termination of calls from Reliance Jio’s network to other operators network, precisely owing to this issue,” it said, counter-accusing the existing players of deliberate attempt to provide such access.
The company also quoted what it thought were relevant portions of its licencing pacts.
“In view of the above said provisions of the Unified License, it is reiterated the test trials being conducted by Reliance Jio are well within the scope of the terms and conditions of the Unified License,” said the letters.
It said such tests were imminently essential since, Reliance Jio was responsible to maintain QoS (quality of service), both before and after the commercial launch — a matter that called for putting in place a proper network and internally testing, prior to a commercial launch.
Reliance Jio also sought to allude that it was a serious player in the business — as it has invested over Rs 134,000 crore in the project so far out of the earmarked Rs 150,000 — and intended to cover 18,000 towns and 200,000 villages across 22 service areas.
“The coverage will soon be increased to over 90 per cent of the population of the country.”
The letter also said it was not the company’s intention to ride on the infrastructure that has been set up by the incumbents — since it intended to have 800,000 remote radio heads at launch, against a total of 210,000 of all other operators.
“In view of the above, we state that all steps taken by COAI, in last few days by issuing press releases, alleging unfounded biases with the regulator, and by writing letters against the test trials are in fact attempts to sabotage the market entry of Reliance Jio, a new player, and malign its name.”
It has also sought the intervention of the authorities, and the COAI, in ensuring that existing players comply with licencing agreements and augment the points of inter-connect with Reliance Jio — as it would otherwise be tantamount to a breach of regulations.