Vodafone Idea’s fine challenge dismissed

31 May 2023

The Delhi High Court has rejected Vodafone Idea’s (Vi) attempt to challenge a fine from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) dating back to 2016.

In September 2016, Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) entered the mobile market and gained immediate traction by providing services almost free of charge to new sign-ups during its first six months of operation. However, those who switched to Jio’s network reported a high failure rate for calls to different networks.

Jio said that this was because the incumbent operators had denied its network sufficient points of interconnection (PoIs), while its rivals countered that Jio’s decision to provide free services forced their hands, as their networks would be overloaded.

TRAI recommended fining the incumbent operators INR500 million per circle where Jio’s claim was found to be true. This was prior to the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular – the operators were fined INR10.5 billion and INR9.5 billion respectively - and the merged company still owes INR20.0 billion.

Vi said that TRAI does not have the authority to impose such fines under the terms of current regulations, and called for the penalties to be annulled. The Delhi High Court has now dismissed this petition.