COAI Hits Back, Calls Jio BDO – Back Door Operator

rajan_mathews-coaiAs expected, COAI has lashed out at Reliance Jio in reply to its letter where the latter had accused the GSM body of bias, undemocratic and serves the telecom industry with vested interest.

COAI in its reply said what Jio is doing by accusing the incumbent operators and the association is ‘slanderous’ and ‘mischievous.’

“This is slanderous, mischievous and suggests that the existing leading members are a cohort bent upon blocking entry of new operators on the basis of bald allegations,” COAI said.

Funnily, the GSM association has given a new name to Jio in the response where the RIL owned telecom firm has termed the incumbent operators as IDO or incumbent dominant operators.


“Reliance Jio is labelling the established and well performing operators who have served the cause of digital India for long years as Incumbent Dominant operators (IDO). None of the half a dozen new operators who have entered in the last five years have ever accused COAI or in fact labeled the leading operators as IDO’s. Despite repeated and grave provocations from Reliance Jio, COAI wishes to state that Reliance Jio which entered the sector as a Back Door Operator (“BDO”) was welcomed by COAI as a full member,” the association said in its statement.

By BDO, COAI explained that Reliance Jio was never an applicant for a UASL or UL license but bought a BWA through a front entity and then had it converted to a full blown UASL license despite strong objection from certain quarters including the CAG. Despite all this skullduggery COAI welcomed Reliance Jio into the association and congratulated the new entrant on its launch.

In a scathing letter, Reliance Jio had accused the GSM body of bias, lopsided and serve the vested interest of three incumbent operators – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, and want the association’s rules, regulations and processes to be completely overhauled.

“COAI Regulations are overwhelmingly biased and lopsided and have been framed to sub serve the vested interests of the three incumbent dominant operators, namely, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea,” Jio stated in a letter addressed to COAI Chairman Gopal Vittal, also the CEO of Bharti Airtel, and Director General Rajan S Mathews.

The letter is also marked to telecom minister and TRAI chairman besides many others including other members of COAI.

The association, in its reply, said all the rules and regulations of the association were known to the new member when it applied for the membership of COAI, but it’s surprising that the operator is raising this issue now, after accepting the membership.

“COAI also wishes to point out that Reliance Jio was presented with the Constitution and By-Laws of the Association, pursuant to their application for membership and was well aware of the governance structure and practices of the Association.  No issues were raised at this time and they agreed to abide by these rules and regulations. It is surprising that Reliance Jio now raises certain issues as something new,” COAI said.

“We can only believe these are now motivated by a desire to tarnish the reputation and credibility of COAI in the light of certain representations made by COAI to various government agencies. COAI also wishes to state that any representation made is done after following all due processes of the association and with transparency on whether any member operator agrees or disagrees with the COAI position,” the statement further added.

Jio, in its letter dated 23 September addressed to the Chairman and DG of COAI, marking a copy to TRAI chairman, telecom minister and other members, suggested that the overhaul and amendment of COAI should be carried by retired judges of the Supreme Court.


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