Airtel writes to DoT, alleges security violation by Jio in J&K

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018


Jio denies it, may consider taking legal recourse

The Airtel-Reliance Jio war escalated further with the country’s largest telecom services provider writing a letter to the Department of Telecom alleging that Reliance Jio (RJIL) was violating licence conditions and was not following instructions from the security agencies to stop pre-paid services in Jammu and Kashmir.

RJIL, however, denied the allegations made by Bharti Airtel, terming these as “completely baseless, malicious and tantamount to wilful disparagement against RJIL”.

Airtel’s letter to DoT says that RJIL, in gross violation of the licence conditions, both in letter and spirit, is resorting to claiming 95 per cent of its subscriber base (around seven lakh customers) as post-paid, even though such subscribers are actually pre-paid ones. “This act on the part of RJIL could jeopardise the move to block the telecommunication services to the prepaid customers from the very root,” Airtel said in the letter dated May 30, viewed by Business Line.

According to government rules, pre-paid services are renewed periodically (every two years) in J&K. An audit is also done in that respect and the pre-paid services can be permanently suspended if subscriber verification remains below 90 per cent in case of four consecutive quarterly audits.

As per Airtel’s letter, RJIL violated these norms by providing ‘free services’ by tagging their pre-paid users, using their services completely free or by recharging as post-paid customers.

It said RJIL, which launched its services in September and is providing free high-speed 4G mobile data and voice services to lakhs of customers, has tagged these ‘free offering’ as pre-paid in all telecom circles.

In the case of RJIL, pre-paid subscribers tactically and deliberately are being tagged as postpaid purely for its economic gain and competitive advantage, at the cost of ‘national security and putting the lives of our security forces in danger’.

“By virtue of the number of subscribers to whom RJIL continues to provide services, the entire intent of the authorities to control spreading of information and communication by anti-national elements in being nullified,” it said.

‘No clear distinction’

The letter added that “as per RJIL’s own admission, there is no clear distinction between RJIL’s postpaid and prepaid customers.”

However, RJIL said there was no difference in the stipulated process to be followed for on-boarding pre-paid or post-paid users. “Each of the processes has been strictly followed by RJIL in accordance with the stringent norms and guidelines prescribed by the Department of Telecom and the J&K government,” an RJIL spokesperson said.

Tariff plans offered by RJIL are fully compliant with applicable regulations and similar plans are in fact offered by all the other operators as well, adding that Airtel’s allegation was a clear demonstration of use of false propaganda when competitors are unable to compete in the market place.”

“It is worthwhile to mention here that RJIL had escalated the issue of Airtel allowing incoming calls for their pre-paid subscribers in Kashmir valley despite a written order from the J&K government earlier this month to stop all pre-paid services,” the spokesperson said.

RJIL said while it would be responding to the allegations in detail, it would also “independently examine and initiate appropriate legal recourse available to it as well.”

Published on May 31, 2017

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