The telecom industry watchdog, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, might soon come to conclusion on Mukesh Ambani’s free internet services, which is leading to a price war in the telecom industry.
While addressing representatives of telecom companies and students at National Telecom Seminar ‘Telefocus 2017’ at Amity University, RS Sharma, chairman of TRAI said that the regulator will “soon come to conclusion on the issue”.
Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have moved telecom tribunal TDSAT and urged it to direct TRAI to look into the matter and come to conclusion in “reasonable time”. Airtel went ahead and in its affidavit called TRAI a “mute spectator” as it allowed Reliance Jio to give free internet services beyond the stipulated 90 days period.
Hinting at malpractices and arm-twisting by service providers, he said, “Whenever a new technology is introduced in the market, the vendor will try to sell you the product in a way that you get completely dependent on it.”
The new technology that Sharma might be referring to is 4G, and the new vendor might be Reliance Jio.
He further added, if the government seeks the expertise and service of a company while developing a smart city, then the company gets encrypted to the concept to the extent that it becomes difficult to replace it with someone better.
“We should not get stuck in a vendor-locket... Government must ensure an infrastructure where vendors act as plug-ins to make it functional and the customers’ needs should be in focus,” Sharma said.
He also said that telecom operators should focus on an “open and interoperable” market, something that Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries has been complaining since Reliance Jio launched its operations in September.
Meanwhile, the telecom industry, which is already under heavy debt -- of Rs 3,85,000 crore -- is hitting a wall due to continuous collapsing of voice and data tariffs, led by unfair competition from Reliance Jio.
“Free services impact the whole industry. It is unfair competition, the revenue and margins are impacted,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises, which owns Airtel.
Sharma did not want to further elaborate on the matter. “The matter is sub judice in court and it won’t be appropriate for me to comment on the issue... The price for telecom services is under forbearance for many years and TRAI does not intend to interfere. Free competition should take place,” he said.