Bharti Airtel has moved the Competition Commission of India against Reliance Jio’s “predatory free pricing strategy”. In a letter to the CCI dated February 2, the telecom has accused its rival of attempting to “create a monopoly for itself” by binding its customers to its free voice and data packs with the objective of “eliminating competition”, Mint reported.
“It is a strategic business tactic adopted to enhance market power,” the letter said. “Once RJIL obtains a higher market share, it will likely increase the costs or even charge for voice calls since competition will be limited.” Airtel accused Jio of abusing its position and said the operator had been offering free services since December 2015, when it was testing its networks, The Financial Express reported.
“No other telecommunication operator in the Indian market (or even across the world) is offering services free of cost,” the company said. However, Jio refuted the allegations against it, with a company spokesperson calling the letter a “ploy to divert attention from its own violation of licensing conditions by having denied adequate points-of-interconnection” to the Mukesh Ambani-owned company. The spokesperson also accused Airtel of “acting against consumer interest by stridently opposing the free voice benefit that Jio has been able to provide customers”.
The letter comes after Jio in November 2016 moved the CCI citing cartel-like behaviour from its three main rivals – Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone. The complaint filed by Jio accused the three companies of abusing their market positions to deny it enough points-of-interconnection for its customers. Soon after its September 1, 2016 launch, Jio had started claiming that its rival telecom companies had not provided the required interconnections, causing a large number of call drops.