Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have moved telecom tribunal to challenge telecom department’s demand notices for payment of ₹3,050 crore cumulative penalties in the points of inter-connect matter, a source said.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had recently issued demand notices to both the telcos to pay cumulative ₹3,050 crore in penalties in three weeks’ time for violating norms by denying Reliance Jio points of interconnect (PoIs) way back in 2016.
Industry sources said that both Airtel and Vodafone Idea have now moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) challenging DoT’s demand notices and penalty and that the matter could come up for hearing on Tuesday.
E-mails sent to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd did not elicit a response.
The DoT had slapped a penalty of ₹2,000 crore on Vodafone Idea and ₹1,050 crore on Bharti Airtel based on sector regulator Trai’s recommendation five years ago.
Bharti Airtel had earlier said that the company is deeply disappointed with the arbitrary and unfair demand based on TRAI recommendations of 2016 relating to provisions of point of interconnect to a new operator.
In October 2016, the regulator had recommended imposing a total penalty of ₹3,050 crore on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea (now merged) for allegedly denying inter-connectivity to Reliance Jio.
The regulator had, at that time, stopped short of recommending cancellation of their telecom licences saying it may lead to significant consumer inconvenience.
Trai’s recommendation had come on a complaint by Jio that over 75 per cent of calls on its network were failing as incumbents were not releasing sufficient numbers of PoIs.
The Digital Communications Commission, the telecom department’s apex decision-making body, approved the cumulative penalty in July 2019.