RJio accuses Airtel, VIL of using farm protests to port out users

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on December 14, 2020

‘Companies responsible for spreading false rumours that RJio is an undue beneficiary of farm bills’

Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio) has crossed swords once again with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India Ltd (VIL), this time alleging its telecom rivals of using the ongoing farmers’ protest to malign the company.

Further, RJio — a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) — has accused the two operators of spreading ‘frivolous rumours’ that it will gain from the controversial farm laws, and that porting out would be an act of support to the farmers’ protests.

RJio, in a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), termed Airtel and VIL’s ‘practices’ ‘unethical and anti-competitive’, and said these have resulted in a large number of porting out requests with farmers’ protest as the sole reason.

“These companies continue to remain directly or indirectly involved in supporting and furthering the insinuations and false and frivolous rumours of RIL being an undue beneficiary of the farm Bills, for unethical pecuniary benefits in the form of induced porting of RJio customers,” it said.

“We submit that Airtel and VIL remain unabated in pursuing this vicious and divisive campaign through its employees, agents and retailers. They are inciting the public by making preposterous claims that migrating Jio mobile numbers to their networks would be an act of support to farmers’ protests,” said the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by BusinessLine.

‘False propoganda’

Along with the complaint, RJio submitted pictures of campaigns across Maharashtra, Punjab and other northern States, which it termed ‘misleading and inciteful’. This “false propaganda”, mainly using social platforms, is to garner some meagre additional customers, it said, adding that it is a blatant violation of principles of tariff advertisements as prescribed by TRAI.


Requesting the regulator to take immediate and strict action, RJio also stated that these campaigns could severally jeopardise the safety and security of its personnel, network and business installations on the ground.

The companies have for long indulged in a war of words over interconnect usage charges, tariff hikes and special tariff packages, among others.

Airtel, VIL deny allegations

Airtel and VIL denied the charges, terming them baseless allegations. Airtel said the complaint was in “poor taste and is scurrilous”, while VIL strongly refuted the allegation, saying it is meant to malign its reputation.

“Airtel has operated in the telecom industry for 25 years. During this period, we have competed hard in the market place and striven to serve our customers with excellence. At the same time we take great pride in treating our competitors and partners with respect,” Airtel said.

“Vi believes in doing business with ethics,” VIL said, terming the comments ‘irresponsible’.


Published on December 14, 2020

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