13/09/2016 9:56 AM IST | Updated 13/09/2016 2:43 PM IST

Idea Agrees To Provide More Interconnect Points To Support Jio's Call Traffic

But it comes at a high cost, it says

Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

Telecom operator Idea Cellular has said it will soon provide more interconnect points to support RelianceJio's network, a move that it said will incur a huge cost due to high number of incoming traffic from Jio.

Idea, India's third largest mobile operator, said the new interconnect points will support Jio's call traffic for an estimated 1.85 million additional customers, enabling more calls from Jio customers to connect with subscribers on Idea network.

However, allowing more traffic comes to Jio comes at a cost, Idea said.

"Unless controlled, this induced traffic asymmetry is expected to exacerbate the loss in coming months," an Idea statement said.

The decision to provide additional facility for network interconnection comes just days after telecom regulator Trai intervened in the feud between incumbent mobile operators -- Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular-- and new entrant RelianceJio Infocomm.

The incumbents had contended they couldn't entertain Reliance Jio requests for interconnection points as they didn't have the network or the financial resources to handle the amount of 'asymmetric voice traffic' from 100 million Jio customers.

The conflict came to the fore following Jio customers experiencing a number of call failures due to insufficient points of interconnection being made available by the existing operators.

Idea said in the statement that it has now decided to proactively expand capacity with Jio to over 6.5 million subscribers, with the release of 196 additional points of interconnection shortly. The additional capacity will provide for a buffer of 119 per cent against the expected subscriber volumes in August, significantly higher than the buffer of 57 per cent that its current allocation of interconnection points would normally support. Idea estimates that calls from nearly 2.97 million unique Jio subscribers terminated on its network in August 2016.

Idea is the first of the three incumbent telecom operators to agree to offer additional interconnection ports for Jio. The Aditya Birla group firm said that it awaits regulatory intervention to address the asymmetry of traffic issue and ensure compliance of existing interconnection usage charge (IUC) regulations.

"Separately, TRAI has been informed that in August 2016, there existed an unprecedented asymmetry of traffic of 14.5 times between Idea and Jio. Never ever has such a high asymmetry been observed with a new operator in the past," the statement said.

Idea said that its real cost of call termination is significantly higher than the current interconnect settlement charge of 14 paise per minute as prescribed in the present IUC regime.

"We are hopeful that the TRAI will urgently examine these threshold issues and will ensure that all parties are compliant to the letter and spirit of the law," it said.

Welcoming Jio, Idea said it remains committed to "facilitate its seamless entry into the hyper-competitive market" and "will continue to support all new operators for all their reasonable, fair and legitimate requirements of POIs."

With PTI inputs