Bharti Airtel has stepped up its offensive against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India with another affidavit accusing the regulator of turning a blind eye towards Reliance Jio Infocomm’s alleged violations. In a document submitted to the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal, Airtel said the monitoring body had compromised competition rules by letting the new operator “perpetuate illegality”, The Economic Times reported on Wednesday.
Airtel’s statement said, “Such gaming is detrimental to consumer interest as it leads to uninformed decision making by the consumer in the wake of an unstable regulatory tariff regime,” The Economic Times reported. A report in The Financial Express said Airtel’s new affidavit claimed the company had found additional grounds to challenge the entrant. It accused Trai of failing to hold Reliance Jio accountable for violating the interconnect usage base charge of 14 paise a minute.
Airtel alleged that Trai tacitly allowed Jio to offer free voice and data services, via its Jio Happy New Year plan, after the 90-day introductory period. On December 23, Airtel had filed an affidavit against the regulatory authority asking Reliance Jio to stop its “anti-competitive offers”. The tribunal approved Trai’s request for the time and postponed the hearing to February 1 while allowing Reliance Jio to become a party to the case.
Jio had said that it had complied with the industry rules and that predatory pricing was applicable only once the entrant had secured a significant market share, which it claimed had not been achieved. Jio had also filed a complaint with the Competition Commission of India in the matter, accusing its competitors of abusing their market positions to deny it enough points-of-interconnection for its customers. In October, Jio’s claims were supported by Trai when it recommended fining Airtel, Idea and Vodafone Rs 3,050 crore for failing to provide newcomer Reliance Jio with the requisite number of interconnections.