The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Friday recommended that industry majors Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea be fined Rs 3,050 crore for failing to provide newcomer Reliance Jio with the requisite number of interconnections. Trai claimed the three companies’ actions were an attempt to stifle competition, terming it an "ulterior motive". Interconnections provided by telecom companies facilitate calls between users of different services.

Jio wrote to the telecom regulator alleging malpractice by the three companies on October 12. Trai subsequently made the recommendation in a letter to the Department of Telecommunication, saying the companies' actions amounted to a violation of licence norms. Trai said the standard punishment for violating these rules is to revoke a given company’s licence, but since that would cause massive inconvenience to the public, a large penalty would be more appropriate, the Economic Times reported.

Trai’s letter recommended that Bharti Airtel and Vodafone be fined Rs 1,050 crore each. Idea, which has a smaller coverage area, should pay Rs 950 crore, the regulator said.

Reliance Jio has been complaining since soon after its September 1 launch that its rival telecom companies have not been providing the required interconnections, causing a large number of call drops. The Mukesh Ambani-led company claimed that the other telecom firms were engaging in an “unlawful and illegal delay” on providing the points of connection.

In its letter addressed to the telecom secretary and Trai chairperson, Reliance Jio said its customers on a particular day experienced an average call drop rate of 87% on Vodafone and around 67% on the Idea network. Airtel, Vodafone and Idea maintain that they have complied with Jio's requirements of interconnection points.