Telcos ask TRAI not to penalise them over minor service issues

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NEW DELHI: Telecom companies have asked the sector regulator to take a pragmatic view on levying penalties, especially over marginal deviations from quality of service benchmarks as some of those may have been caused by natural events such as floods or heavy rains.

Carriers have argued that deviations may have been due to unforeseen circumstances, system failures or factors beyond the control of the carriers for which they should not be penalised, and have sought for individual hearings to explain their stand.

“We request that these nominal or marginal deviations from the prescribed benchmarks should be waived off and no financial disincentives should be imposed on the operators,” the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said in a letter to the telecom regulator last week, adding that certain marginal deviations were not material enough to attract financial penalties when a large number of customers were being served.EThas seen acopy of the letter.

The association, which represents all non-state telecom carriers including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio, said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) should take a “pragmatic and considerate view” on the marginal deviations and sought for a “review of all financial incentive orders” issued from the quarter ended March 2017 onwards.

Rajan Mathews, the association’s director-general, said Trai needed to work with the carriers to address systemic issues, “instead of continuing to slap on penalties which are often quashed or reduced substantially by the courts”.

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