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Majority in agreement on interconnect issue, except one: COAI

Majority in agreement on interconnect issue, except one: COAI

Seeking to silence criticism over its functioning and voting rights on critical policy-related matters, cellular operators body COAI today said it is a “democratic association” and asserted that five of its six members are in agreement on issues such as interconnect.

“We have six members and five of them are on board on interconnect and other issues,” Rajan S Mathews, director general of COAI, told PTI.

The comment comes at a time when new entrant Reliance Jio has reportedly questioned the governance and the voting process being followed by the association, of which it is also a member.

The incumbant operators, under the aegis of COAI, have locked horns with the new entrant Reliance Jio – which has charted an aggressive tariff and roll out strategy for 4G services – over points of interconnect or connectivity within various networks.

“COAI was in existence well before RIL came in…and when bylaws were set, we modelled ourselves after CII and FICCI. In our governance structure, we have proportionate interest and that is part of any democratic set up,” Mathews said.

Mathews rejected Reliance Jio’s allegations that the association had become a mouthpiece of incumbent operators.

“Everybody other than RIL has agreed to the issues that we have highlighted in the last two letters. There is complete agreement among 5 of the 6 members…so clearly as an association we have to represent that this is the majority view…and that there is a minority view…and I am sure RIL will express its minority view,” he said.

As far as the governance structure is concerned, all members also share costs in proportion to their voting rights, he said.

“The association’s voting rights are proportionate to the revenue (of operator members), which we felt is a better indicator than subscribers…since it is a third party valdation,” he said.

On the voting process, Mathews said, “We have always maintained that this is the majority view and there is a minority view… all of our letters have indicated that. When there is no dissent, we say everyone is on the same page.” In a statement, COAI said that questioning the credibility and integrity of the views of all its member operators is against the spirit of the conduct of members of the association.

“We would expect the member partners to take utmost care while talking about the functioning of the association,” the COAI statement said.