Newbie Reliance Jio has moved to Aruna Sundararajan, the Telecom Secretary, for termination of the mobile contract for the North-East given to Bharti Airtel, blaming that it restricts project operation to 2G services only.
On September 8, 2017, the Telecom Commission approved the bid from Airtel to set up almost 2,000 mobile towers in states of north eastern part of the country for Rs 1,660 Crore under the state-supported Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the NER (North-Eastern Region).
Under the scheme, 8,621 out of 9,190 villages that are unconnected will be covered by setting up of 6,673 mobile towers with a complete budget of almost Rs 5,336.18 Crore.
In a memo to Sundararajan on September 18, 2017, Jio claimed that the contract condition needing service support to 2G smartphones involuntarily commands employment of the outdated tech that is not only expensive but inefficient.
The Mukesh Ambani-controlled company ordered that obligatory conditions to hold up 2G mobile handsets in the contract for Andaman and Nicobar islands and the North-East be detached so that all telecom providers take part in a competitive and fair manner and advantages of the newest techs can be offered to users in the NER.
“The move to give the contract to M/s Bharti Airtel for some regions of the NER based on the faulty and current and restrictive contract conditions may also be terminated forthwith and a new tender might be subjected with reasonable conditions for the advantage of users,” Jio claimed.
State-controlled BSNL has also been asked to launch out 2,000 mobile towers below the project. It has chosen Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd. (HFCL) and Vihaan Networks, the local telecom equipment makers, for network roll out, but is still to get acceptance from the DoT (Department of Telecom).
DoT had rolled out this contracted in 2016, but there were no proposals. It then accepted most of the modifications in the contract document as ordered by Cellulars Association of India, the industry body, and invited new proposals this year, which witnessed participation from Bharti Airtel only.
Jio claimed that the licenses given by DoT are tech neutral.