Bharti Airtel has taken the telecom war with its now biggest competitor Reliance Jio to the next step as it has filed a complaint against the company with Competition Commission of India (CCI). Airtel has accused Reliance Jio of creating a monopoly for itself with its predatory pricing.” Also Read - Airtel 5G service rollout: Airtel and Tata Group partner for Made in India 5G networkAlso Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAI
UPDATE: This latest salvo by Airtel is a clear ploy to divert attention from its own violation of licensing conditions by having denied adequate POIs to Jio and the already announced censure proceedings by the TRAI against them. Airtel is also acting against consumer interest by stridently opposing the free voice benefit that Jio has been able to provide customers due to its superior next generation IP based technology, a Reliance Jio spokesperson told BGR India. Also Read - Airtel launches new Rs 456 prepaid plan: Check data, validity, call and other benefits
“All tariff plans of Jio have been found to be non-predatory by the regulator, so the question of our offerings being predatory does not arise. India s telecom sector has tended to progress due to disruptive innovation brought in by a new comer, but unfortunately, the incumbents led by Airtel have always tried to block such initiatives,” they added.
In a letter written by Bharti Airtel to CCI, the company says that Reliance Jio s free pricing strategy has injured competition in the telecom sector, leaving behind an anti-competitive behavior. It is a strategic business tactic adopted to enhance market power with the objective of eliminating competition, which it has succeeded to a large extent during the quarter October to December 2016 itself, Airtel said in the letter, as reported by Livemint.
Airtel’s decision to move the CCI comes weeks after its chairman Bharti Mittal had slammed Reliance Jio for its freebies. Describing Jio’s offers as unfair”, he said, “There is an impact on the whole industry. Anything being offered free would have an impact on revenue and margins. This is unfair competition.”
Reliance Jio’s free offers have already triggered a new price war in the telecom industry with rivals trying to compete with low-cost data plans. While Reliance Jio is aiming to reach 100 million subscriber base at the earliest, the price war has already forced the industry giant Vodafone to look for merger in India. ALSO READ: After Vodafone-Idea merger talks, Telenor in talks with Aircel-RCom for merger: Report
Taking a potshot at Reliance Jio, Airtel’s MD and CEO Gopal Vittal had commented, “We welcome the news of the proposed alliance between Vodafone and Idea Cellular…However, it is important to ensure that such consolidations are not an outcome of a forced situation created by offering an unfair playing field to any particular company while completely destroying the viability of the others.”
That said, it’s not the first time when Reliance Jio and incumbent players have been at loggerheads. In December 2016, Airtel and Idea Cellular moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), alleging that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is favoring Reliance Jio by allowing it to continue with its free data strategy. Amid all the complaints against Jio s free data offer, right before the company s Welcome Offer with free data, voice calls, SMS was to expire on December 31, 2016, the company extended the offer till March 31 2017, calling it the Happy New Year offer. ALSO READ: After Airtel, Idea approaches TDSAT to protest against TRAI s approval of Jio promotional offer
Additionally, last year in November 2016, Reliance Jio had also filed a complaint with CCI, and the body has asked its director-general to look into the matter, adds the report. Also, just late last month, Reliance Jio had asked telecom regulator TRAI to impose highest penalty on Airtel, accusing the latter of grossly exaggerating the value of data in a promotional offer, and giving misleading tariff ads. Jio has shot-off a letter to the telecom regulator alleging that in so far as the advertisements issued by Airtel for pre-paid and post-paid tariff packs are concerned, the unlimited calls and free data being offered by Airtel is in gross violation of extant telecommunication.”
In addition, few days ago, TRAI declared that the tariff plans provided by Reliance Jio are in compliance with its regulations and the existing tariff orders. TRAI is expected to communicate the same to the incumbant operators including Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, after they moved telecom tribunal TDSAT against the regulator.
BONUS VIDEO: Jio Happy New Year Offer announced to extend free services till March 31, 2017