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After Airtel, Idea Cellular challenges TRAI in telecom tribunal

Idea Cellular, the telecom company run by the $41 billion Aditya Birla Group, has moved telecom tribunal, TDSAT, against the telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI).

business Updated: Jan 18, 2017 14:38 IST
Sunny Sen
The recent slash -- by almost 66% -- in data rates has also impacted Idea’s stock prices, which is trading at a 52-weeks low.
The recent slash -- by almost 66% -- in data rates has also impacted Idea’s stock prices, which is trading at a 52-weeks low. (Livemint)

Idea Cellular, the telecom company run by the multi-billion dollar conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, has moved telecom tribunal, TDSAT, against the telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI).

The move comes after Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti Airtel moved against the telecom regulator in December over issues against Reliance Jio, Mukesh Ambani’s telecom startup, offering free services.

Two calls by this reporter to Idea’s corporate affairs head went unanswered. The listing on the tribunal’s website doesn’t disclose any details, however, industry insiders said that the matter can be similar to Airtel’s.

Airtel had moved the tribunal urging it to look into the matter on TRAI allowing Reliance Jio to continue with its free internet services beyond the stipulated 90-days time period, and called the regulator a “mute spectator” in the matter.

The violations of TRAI’s order, Airtel alleged, has caused “significant prejudice and day-to-day loss” to it business and has also burdened its network because of free calls offered by Jio.

“Any kind of free services has a negative impact on the revenue and margins of the industry,” said Mittal. He added that the free services has given rise to “unfair competition”.

TDSAT, a quasi-judicial body in its last hearing directed TRAI to come to a conclusion in “reasonable time”.

Reliance Jio’s free services has already started a price war by offering free data and free “voice for life” to attract customers. Throw in the new investment numbers of Rs 30,000 crore, which Ambani’s investment in the telecom venture to Rs 2,00,000 crore by end of this fiscal, the price war will only increase.

The recent slash -- by almost 66% -- in data rates has also impacted Idea’s stock prices, which is trading at a 52-weeks low. Bharti Airtel’s stock is also in the list of the top losers on the Nifty 50.