In Brief:TRAI recommends USD157m fines over Jio interconnect issue 

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has written to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to recommend that Vodafone India, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular be issued fines of INR10.5 billion (USD156.75 million) apiece for violating the terms of their licences by refusing to provide sufficient interconnection points to newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL). The TRAI argues that the three providers are required to provide adequate points of interconnection (PoIs) to all eligible service providers. As the trio failed to do so, despite pressure from the watchdog and without offering an adequate explanation for their refusal to comply with regulations, the TRAI found that their actions: ‘clearly indicates [an] attempt by the service providers to stifle competition in the market and to wilfully violate the licence conditions.

***Following the redistribution of 4G-suitable spectrum by the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) among Egypt’s mobile operators, Vodafone Egypt appears to have lost out at the expense of its rival Orange Egypt.The NTRA’s latest decision Orange Egypt and Etisalat Misr will each be allocated 10MHz of frequencies for the deployment of LTE-based services. While Etisalat Misr had been offered that amount of spectrum under the terms of the 4G licences that all three Egyptian cellcos opted not to apply for in September 2016, Orange Egypt had only been offered 7.5MHz. By comparison, in the latest spectrum distribution plan Vodafone Egypt will now only be given 5MHz of LTE-suitable frequencies, down from the 7.5MHz it had been offered under the earlier licensing terms.

*** The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has given its final approval for the merger of mobile network operators Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh.The BTRC Chairman said that the consolidation would bring a positive change for the industry. The merger deal, which was signed in January and received court approval at the end of August, is expected to be completed by the end of the year, leapfrogging rival Banglalink to form a new second-placed mobile challenger to GrameenPhone under the Robi brand. Malaysia’s Axiata will control 68.3% of the new company, whilst India’s Bharti Airtel will own 25% and existing Robi Axiata stakeholder NTT DOCOMO will take the 6.7% remainder.

***AT&T Inc and Time Warner Inc have announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which the former will acquire the media and entertainment conglomerate in a stock-and-cash transaction valued at USD107.50 per share. The total value of the transaction is likely to be in the region of USD85 billion, while the agreement has already been approved unanimously by the boards of directors of both companies. The deal will combine Time Warner’s vast library of content – it owns HBO, Warner Bros and Turner – with AT&T’s extensive customer relationships, world’s largest pay-TV subscriber base and leading scale in TV, mobile and broadband distribution.

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