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Airtel, Vi disagree with Jio’s porting proposal that ignore pending dues

Telecom operators – Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea – on Thursday opposed peer Reliance Jio’s proposal that postpaid users’ pending dues of up to Rs 100 should be ignored while porting out.

The Reliance Industries-owned company made this proposal to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in an open house discussion on the subject ‘Draft Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability (Ninth Amendment) Regulations, 2023’.

Currently, telcos can stop the mobile number portability process for a postpaid user if his or her dues are above Rs 10. However, as per directions from Trai, a telecom operator will have to ignore and allow for a seamless port out if dues are less than 10.

According to Airtel and Vodafone Idea, if the threshold of Rs 10 is increased to Rs 100, it will be hit their revenues and there will be an increase in bad debts from consumers who are porting out. Jio, however, said that a higher non-payment disconnection (NPD) threshold will be in the consumers’ interest as currently the process is cumbersome and time-consuming.

“The minimum charge for the postpaid connection is about Rs 200. The NPD threshold of Rs 10 is a small sum. We would say that at least raise it to Rs 100. We have examined that with this about 35% disconnection will not take place,” said Udai Kumar Srivastava, president at Reliance Jio.

NPD is a process by which dues are collected from a postpaid customer by the donor operator, which is the operator whose network the consumer is leaving.

“One thing we need to keep in mind is bad debt which is going to happen from that increase. This industry has one of the lowest Arpu (average revenue per user) in the world. How I can think about raising the amount to Rs 100 when the industry Arpu is just Rs 175?” said Manoj Mishra, vice president, regulatory at Bharti Airtel.

“We do not agree with the suggestion given by Jio on this,” Mishra added.

Lately, the overall mobile number portability requests have been increasing. In December, MNP requests were at 12.4 million, higher than 11.95 million in November. Lately, Jio has been leading the market in terms of user additions. In the October-December quarter, the company also dominated the market with net port at 2.5 times of nearest competitor, it had said during the analysts call.

Ajay Mehta, vice president, Trai policy and operations at Vodafone Idea, said, “If the recipient operator is taking business, let it pay the amount owed by the customer to the donor operator. Why should the donor operator bear the loss?”

Trai, however, is expected to issue a separate consultation on the subject before coming up with any conclusion. “Some useful inputs have come on the suggestions related to MNP, we will follow the due process,” said Anil Kumar Lahoti, chairman, Trai.

With regard to the amendment to MNP, the government is considering that if a mobile connection has undergone the process of SIM replacement, SIM swap and upgradation, the process shall not be allowed for 10 days.

The move is aimed at curbing SIM-swap frauds, and the telecom operators were in line with the government’s move. Financial Express

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