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There was no way the Indian MNO incumbents were going to stay calm over the incredibly disruptive arrival of new 4G player Jio, and the first evidence of this is already emerging.

Scott Bicheno

September 20, 2016

3 Min Read
It has all kicked off in India as Jio accuses Airtel of dilly-dallying

There was no way the Indian MNO incumbents were going to stay calm over the incredibly disruptive arrival of new 4G player Jio, and the first evidence of this is already emerging.

Reliance and Aircel have done the sensible thing by joining forces but market leader Bharti seems to have other tricks up its sleeve. As is so often the case it all comes down to the old Points of Interconnect (PoIs), which are where the hand-over from one network to the other occur.

Airtel seems to have dragged its feet over PoIs for the Jio network due to some commercial dispute or other, but announced over the weekend that it has received its cash, so everything’s cool. Jio then issued a press release entitled “RJIL welcomes Airtel gesture but 2 crore calls fail daily as Airtel dilly-dallies on adequate PoIs to Jio”. Crore denotes 10 million in India.

Once you play the ‘dilly-dally’ card there’s no turning back and having taken its gloves off Jio pointed out that it took the intervention of the Indian telecoms regulator TRAI for Airtel to make even that inadequate concession. Furthermore there’s nothing in the rule book that entitles Airtel to drag its feet for 90 days over remedying the situation, so get a shift on.

Airtel wasn’t about to take accusations of dilly-dallying lying down and cleverly bounced the accusation right back at Jio, saying “…it is Jio that seems to be dilly-dallying on the issue and not cooperating deliberately. It appears that the constant rhetoric may be a ploy by Jio to cover up some technical issues in their own network, which is causing call failures, by constantly blaming other operators.” Miaow! Jio’s riposte was that there are no call failures within its own network, so WTF?

“Since Jio formally opened up the network for free preview offers and disruptive pricing plans it has unsettled the competition quite a bit,” Neil Shah of Counterpoint Research told Telecoms.com. “This is already evident from the unnecessary spat between the incumbents not releasing enough PoIs as well as higher rejection rate for Mobile Number Portability requests to the rising subscribers clinging on to Jio’s network.

“The incumbents might not have been ready for this huge incoming deluge of PoI requests but at the same time delaying the release of PoIs and letting customers suffer is breach of minimum threshold of Quality of Service guidelines laid out by TRAI and can be seen as anti-competitive. The incumbents should instead focus on widening, densifying and improving their own networks, differentiating more through QoS and coverage and less through cheeky tactics to out-compete rivals.”

Jio has tripled its subscriber base in the last quarter to an estimated 8 million thanks to its aggressive pricing and handing out free SIMs to anyone who fancies one. This is still dwarfed by the 256 million subscribers Ovum’s WCIS says Bharti has but it’s easy to see that number continuing to explode. If Airtel has been being cheeky over PoIs that does seem a bit petty and it will take more than a spot of dilly-dallying to solve the Jio problem.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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