Idea petitions TDSAT against TRAI; price war set to escalate


MUMBAI: Idea Cellular has petitioned TDSAT seeking to stop Reliance Jio from continuing free services till 31 March. In December 2016, India's largest telco Bharti Airtel had moved the tribunal over the same issue.

TDSAT had, in its last hearing, directed TRAI to come to a conclusion in “reasonable time”.

Jio’s free services have set off a price war. After Reliance proposing investment of Rs 30,000 crore by end of this fiscal, the war is set to escalate. The recent cut-down -- by approximately 66 per cent -- in data rates impacted Idea’s stock prices. Airtel’s stock too was in the list of the losers on Nifty.

India’s third largest wireless operator Idea Cellular, run by the multi-billion dollar conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, has now filed a petition in the appellate telecom tribunal (TDSAT) against the telecom regulator TRAI. According to an unidentified TRAI official, the authority has sought opinion of attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi on the matter related to Jio’s extension of free services.

TRAI chairman R.S. Sharma said that everybody in India was free to move court. The Constitution provided them the right. TRA was looking into the matter of Jio’s promotional services and the presentations / arguments made by other operators, and would decide the issue very soon.

Airtel had said that TRAI was allowing Jio to continue with its free internet services beyond the stipulated 90-days time period. It had accused TRAI of acting as a “mute spectator” and killing competition in the sector by allowing Jio to offer free services. Rival telcos had said the free services were predatory in nature.

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