New Delhi: Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal on Thursday said Reliance Jio’s free offer is hitting the sector adversely and has created unfair competition in the market which his firm has challenged before court.
“There is a problem. Any big thing if given for free or at less price then it becomes very difficult to compete with. It is unfair competition which is being discussed through you (media) and in courts,” Mittal said in response to the impact of Reliance Jio’s free 4G service on Bharti Airtel.
He was speaking to reporters after launching Airtel Payments Bank in partnership with Kotak Mahindra Bank. Airtel has filed petition against extension of Reliance Jio free 4G service beyond December. In its 25-page petition before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), Airtel had asked the quasi-judicial body to direct Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to ensure Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond 3 December.
In the petition, Airtel had alleged that Trai in its decision dated 20 October “erroneously” concluded that since Jio’s promotional offer of free services was only valid till 3 December, it is consistent with the direction for 90 days.
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“When something is given for free then that impacts market. We are now before TDSAT to say that the free offer is creating problem in the sector. Ultimately, there should be 4-5 companies in this country for competition. If you give anything for free that creates problem for which we are at doorstep of TDSAT and TRAI is examining it,” Mittal said.
Airtel in its second affidavit before telecom tribunal TDSAT has alleged that the regulator is “perpetuating illegality” by allowing the Mukesh Ambani-controlled Jio to continue offer free 4G mobile broadband and voice calling service. He, however, said that impact of Reliance Jio’s offer on Airtel is least compared to that on other companies in the market.
“It has its impact but compared to impact on companies in the market, Airtel is least impacted because of our 4G rollout, distribution reach. Our management is devoted and we have least market share or traffic share loss,” Mittal said.