Top executives of four telecom companies — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular, and Telenor India — on Friday met the Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), alleging that the newly launched Reliance Jio’s offerings such as free voice calls, data at below-market prices, etc is predatory in nature and contravenes the regulator’s Telecom Tariff Order (TTO) of 2004.
Without detailing any deliberations of the meeting, Vodafone India’s chief executive officer Sunil Sood said: “Only discussion that happened was on TTO and Trai will look into the matter and revert as soon as possible”.
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Apart from Sood, Bharti Airtel’s chief executive officer of India & South Asia Gopal Vittal, Idea Cellular managing director Himanshu Kapania and Telenor India chief executive officer Sharad Mehrotra were also part of the meeting to appraise the regulator about possible violations by Reliance Jio, which itself was not part of the Friday meeting.
According to the four incumbent companies, Reliance Jio’s tariff plans violate the tariff order which states that the pricing of services should not be either anti-competitive or non-discriminatory in nature, with the interconnect usage charge must act as a floor to retail tariffs and “thereby scope for predatory pricing or cross-subsidisation is limited”.
On September 1, Jio had announced zero-tariff scheme for domestic voice calls in perpetuity with significantly lower data rates. While launching these tariffs, Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani had said: “Customers should pay for only one service, either voice or data. Not both”.
Under its ‘welcome offer’, Reliance Jio is offering unlimited access to data and calling till December 31, 2016, and its voice service highly relies on points of interconnection (POIs) it gets from other telecom operators.
The two parties — the existing operators and Reliance Jio — are already in loggerheads with each other over several other issues such as mobile number portability and points of interconnection, with both parties alleging each other of foul play.