Stocks of Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular recovered slightly on Sensex and Nifty after trading flat for most of on Thursday, a day after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India remained firm on its decision to fine three mobile networks. On Wednesday, the regulatory body had refused to reconsider its Rs 3,050-crore penalty on Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea for their alleged failure to provide adequate points of interconnect to Reliance Jio last year.
An Airtel spokesperson said the telecom firm did not agree with the regulatory body’s suggestion and urged the Department of Telecom to reject it. “The penalty has been recommended on the basis of an incorrect assessment of the situation on the ground,” the spokesman said.
Airtel stocks ended at Rs 369.55 per share on Wednesday, up by 1.05% on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, Idea Cellular closed at Rs 79.10 at 0.30% after it slumped by 3.8% on the National Stock Exchange during the afternoon.
In February this year, the telecom commission had sought a clarification from Trai on imposing a penalty on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea. In its response to the Department of Telecommunications, Trai on Wednesday said the three mobile network operators had “intentionally denied and delayed” the provision of points of interconnection to Reliance Jio to “restrict” a new entrant.
Trai said the companies’ actions amounted to a violation of licence norms. “However, the Authority was mindful of the fact that revocation of the licence will entail significant consumer inconvenience,” it said.
On October 12, Jio had written to the telecom regulator alleging malpractice by the three companies, saying this had led to multiple call drops. On October 21, Trai had recommended that Bharti Airtel and Vodafone be fined Rs 1,050 crore each and Idea, which has a smaller coverage area, pay Rs 950 crore.