Reliance Jio files a complaint against major cellular operators

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Reliance Jio has been ruling the headlines since the past few months and it has every reason to! In a recent development, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. has filed a complaint with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Vodafone India Ltd., Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. alleging abuse of dominance and cartelisation.

Reliance Jio filed the complaint on the basis of a letter that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) wrote to the Department of Telecom (DoT) last month, the person added.

In its letter, the TRAI had stated that Vodafone, Airtel, and Idea, jointly with the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), denied points of interconnection to Reliance Jio. The telecom regulator also pointed to a COAI letter dated September 2, 2016 that indicated attempts by the three incumbent telecom operators to stifle competition in the market.

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In its complaint, Reliance Jio has stated that the relevant geographic market to assess anti-competitive behaviour should be the market for call termination in each circle that Vodafone, Airtel, and Idea operate in.

In terms of the product market, Reliance Jio has stated that for abuse of dominance charge it should be the wholesale market for call termination, and for cartelisation it should be the market for mobile telephony. Most mobile number portability (MNP) applications made to Vodafone, Airtel, and Idea have been rejected by them and the MNP registry data will show that, the person quoted above pointed out, while explaining an additional ground for the cartelisation allegation.

Idea Cellular’s chief executive officer Himanshu Kapania rubbished the allegations while responding to the query, “No such details have reached us from CCI. Idea will never be involved in any form of cartelisation. The group has the highest standards of compliance. The mobile industry is hyper competitive with 8-9 operators active per circle. Idea is ranked third with just 18-19 percent market share, so has limited market power.”

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Airtel too said that it has not heard from CCI and in turn alleged Reliance Jio’s claims follow a “standard pattern of browbeating aimed at creating multiple regulatory hurdles in the sincere efforts of other players in the space”.