NEW DELHI: The government has given a clean chit to Reliance Jio Infocomm, saying the Mukesh Ambani-owned mobile phone operator did not violate any rules by offering voice services free of charge.
“Since the guidelines/NIA for allocation or auction of spectrum do not prescribe the rates at which services are to be provided to customers, the question of violation of guidelines for spectrum allocation does not arise,” said Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha in Parliament on Wednesday.
It was a tabled reply to a question by Odisha MP Tathagata Satpathy on day I of the Winter Session.Incumbent telcos had complained that by offering services below the minimum interconnect rates of 14 paise a minute, Jio was violating the Telecom Tarriff Order.
The ministry’s views align with those of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(Trai), which had found that the tariff plans filed with Trai “cannot be considered as IUC non-complaint, predatory and discriminatory.”
Early last month, incumbents Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Telenor India had complained to Trai, calling out Reliance Jio’s free voice and data packs and saying that they were below market prices, and therefore were ‘predatory in nature and contravenes the regulator’s Telecom Tariff Order (TTO) of 2004.
Telecom operators are required to pay 14 paise per minute for each outgoing call from their network to the operator on whose network the call finally lands, called the Interconnection Usage Charge (IUC). The incumbent telcos had argued that the new entrant’s plans were not IUC compliant.