Bharti Airtel has urged TRAI to hold a consultation with stakeholders before coming out with specific guidelines and regulations for companies to comply with principles on interconnect usage charges (IUC) compliance and non-predation. Bharti in a letter addressed to the TRAI Chairman RS Sharma on Thursday said that guidelines and directions related to IUC-compliance and non-predation, on which TDSAT has issued directions, have not been addressed in the past consultations, nor have there been any open house discussions on the same. “Since these issues are extremely critical for the sector and have a significant impact on the telecom business and the consumers, we request TRAI to initiate a fresh consultation paper and seek inputs (as is done for all consultation papers) and hold an open house discussion on the same before finalizing and issuing any guidelines,” Bharti said in the letter, which was seen by FE.
On February 1, TDSAT had given its ruling on petitions filed by Bharti and Idea Cellular against TRAI for allowing Reliance Jio to continue with its free voice and data offers. While quashing Bharti and Idea’s appeals, the tribunal had directed TRAI to issue guidelines/benchmarks/methodologies for performing self-check for consistency with principles of IUC compliance. It had also directed the regulator to come out with suitable direction/order/regulation regarding benchmarks/ guidelines that can be applied for ascertaining consistency with the principle of non-predation. The regulator has covered various aspects of regulations dealing with principles of IUC compliance and non-predation in a consultation paper floated in February 2017, which was to review the present regulatory principles of tariff assessment. TRAI has already conducted discussions with the stakeholders and is expected to come out with necessary regulations and amendments to the Telecom Tariff Order (TTO) any time now.
In the consultations, TRAI held discussions on methods and processes that should be applied by the regulator to assess “predatory pricing” by an operator in the relevant market. Another issue that was part of the consultation was whether the measures prescribed at present are adequate to ensure transparency in tariff offers and, if not, what additional measures should be prescribed by the TRAI. A top executive from a leading telecom operator explained that while TRAI has discussed in one form or the other the issues raised by the TDSAT, the specific directions that the tribunal has given were not part of the consultation. – Financial Express