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Clarify Rs 3,050-cr PoI penalty norms, telecom panel asks TRAI

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Commission as sought clarity from TRAI in the matter relating to the latter recommending Rs 50 crore per circle penalty on Vodafone India, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular in October 2016. The panel directed the department of telecom (DoT) to seek clarity from TRAI on whether the regulator can impose the penalty for violation for interconnect norms.

The penalty was recommended by TRAI on the three telcos accused of denying interconnectivity to newcomer telco Reliance Jio. According to TRAI, the penalty for Airtel and Vodafone was at Rs 1,050 crore each, while for Idea it was around Rs 950 crore. DoT had earlier sought legal opinion from attorney-general on whether it had the powers to impose the penalty, to which he had opined that DoT could impose the penalty.

A senior government official reportedly said the panel now asked DoT to seek clarification from TRAI on 10-12 points, including whether the 90-day period was given to the operators for providing point of interconnection (PoI), method of calculating penalty of Rs 50 crore per circle etc.

Meanwhile, the panel has also okayed demand of Rs 2,834 crore to be raised from operators which provided services between February 2012, when Supreme Court cancelled their licences, and till the time they procured fresh permits after buying spectrum in auction.

Experts said other issues that needed clarification included whether the penalty was reached after calculating congestion in the network on a monthly average and the fine was based upon the license as contract and not on PoI pact between the operators. Jio had in August submitted to TRAI that it will need 12,727 PoIs for mobile services and 3,068 PoIs for STD facilities before its commercial launch.

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