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HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014

Reliance hits back at GSM body

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 07, 2013
First Published: 21:53 IST(7/3/2013) | Last Updated: 02:16 IST(8/3/2013)

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Thursday retaliated against a charge by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) that the government was favouring it by allowing new 4G operators to offer voice services.

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The company has said that the GSM industry body's charges were "frivolous, motivated, misleading, and anti-consumer".

It seems that a war of words has begun between RIL and the COAI that represents mainly GSM players including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone.

In a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary R Chandrashekhar, RIL said the COAI has two main motives - One, it wants to maintain monopoly of its members over the voice market so that they can increase prices. Two, it wants to delay implementation of the new licensing regime so that its members can continue services without paying market prices for spectrum.

"The exit of competition from the cellular market has been exploited by incumbents to increase the tariff arbitrarily to the huge disadvantage of the consumers at large. In our opinion, the current unfolding of events clearly show that incumbent cellular operators and their association, COAI, are scared of the new competition," according to the letter written by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL).

"It seems COAI through this letter is attempting to block the implementation of unified licensing regime with a hidden intention of getting the UAS licences of their association members, which are bundled with the spectrum, extended for another ten years without paying any charge to the government," the letter said.

HT had, on Thursday, reported that the government has rejected COAI's demand saying that its decision was based on the terms of auction for 4G spectrum that was held in 2010.

The company also "appealed" to the COAI to "…work in the interest of the nation and end consumers by fighting the battle with competitors in the open market rather than indulging in any disreputable practices."


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