The Competition Commission of India is believed to have asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to not lay down rules or decide on matters related to predatory pricing of telecom companies, calling the subject its exclusive domain. The CCI told the telecom regulator in a letter that matters such as market dominance by certain firms fell under its domain as per the Competition Act, The Financial Express reported.
“This exercise, regardless of the sector, is the exclusive remit of the competition authority, which has the technical capacity and the supporting statutory framework to carry it out,” CCI Chairman Devender K Sikri wrote in the letter to Trai Chairman RS Sharma. “We do believe that the regulator may not have the wherewithal for the determination of these issues, as such issues do not afford themselves to blanket prescriptions and blunt instrument of regulation.”
The CCI further said that market interventions should be decided on the basis of each case, and that the competition watchdog was better placed than the telecom regulator to act on such matters. It also said that it was open to discuss the subjects with Trai.
The letter was sent in response to a draft consultation paper Trai had issued in February on regulating pricing in the telecom sector. It had sought views on predatory pricing, restrictions on promotional offers and whether companies should be assessed to check whether they were using their prominence in the market to sell their products below a certain cost.
The subject of predatory pricing has been in the news since Reliance Jio’s entry into the sector. Since its launch in September 2016, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Celluar have claimed that Jio was trying to win the market with its free services, which they called a case of predatory pricing.