Reliance Jio, the newest telecom service provider owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, has reported that 7,400 million of calls made on its network dropped between July 8 and October 28 because the other operators did not help complete those calls.
At a meeting of operators with telecom minister Manoj Sinha on Tuesday, Reliance Jio said call blockade has become a bigger problem than call drops, resulting in 65 to 70 per cent of calls on its network ending up as failures.
In response, the telecom minister advised the operators to resolve the issue among themselves, instead of escalating it to the government.
But as of now the operators do not seem to be making much headway towards resolution. And they may not any time soon.
This is what happens when incumbents fortify their territory in the face of a new challenger. What makes matters serious is that the challenger here is not a fledgling start-up – Jio is part of a company that is often the most valued private sector company in the country. And it has entered the telecom sector by promising its users the moon – namely free voice calls and dirt-cheap data.
If Jio is to be believed, the incumbents – Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea – are trying to protect their territory by preventing Jio calls to be completed on their network.
The incumbents, of course, say they are doing no such thing. At a meeting called by the TRAI on September 10, they said they had provided enough points of interconnection, but each time Jio said they were not enough.
There is some apparent heartburn the incumbents seem to have, faced with Jio. Sunil Bharti Mittal, who heads Airtel’s parent company, told a newspaper that Jio’s tariff plans reeked of “predatory pricing” since it would entail charging the consumer less than the 14 paise a minute an operator pays for interconnection.