Trai Seeks In­dus­try Views on Preda­tory Pric­ing, Other Is­sues

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New Delhi: The tele­com reg­u­la­tor has kick­started a process to ad­dress cer­tain loop­holes in rules around con­tentious is­sues such as preda­tory pric­ing and pro­mo­tional of­fers, which have led to a bit­ter cor­po­rate war be­tween Re­liance Jio In­fo­comm and in­cum­bents; Air­tel, Idea Cel­lu­lar and Voda­fone In­dia, and have al­ready landed in court.

In a 32-page con­sul­ta­tion pa­per floated on Fri­day, The Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity of In­dia has also sought views on mat­ters such as non-dis­crim­i­na­tion and trans­parency in ad­ver­tis­ing tar­iffs as part of eight ques­tions it has posed for stake­hold­ers. All com­ments have to come in by March17 and the counter com­ments by March 24.

“Though in the last 17 years, Trai has car­ried out sixty-two amend­ments in the Prin­ci­pal TTO (Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Tar­iff Order) to keep up with the changed cir­cum­stances, it is felt that a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of the TTO is re­quired to ad­e­quately ad­dress the changes in the sec­tor,” Trai said in the pa­per.

Trai be­lieves there is a need to com­pre­hen­sively re­view the po­ten­tial anti-com­pet­i­tive prac­tices that could harm the sec­tor and its con­sumers; set out clearly de­fined stan­dards of com­pet­i­tive con­duct; and ex­plore ap­pro­pri­ate reg­u­la­tory tools to ad­dress such con­cerns. “The anti-com­pet­i­tive be­hav­ior in the con­text of tar­iff set­ting can be through preda­tory pric­ing by the dom­i­nant mar­ket player,” it added.

The reg­u­la­tor also said var­i­ous is­sues sur­round­ing pro­mo­tional of­fers need to be clearly de­fined as such of­fers has been on the rise with the in­creased com­pet­i­tive ac­tiv­i­ties wit­nessed by the mar­ket.

Pro­mo­tional of­fers and preda­tory pric­ing are the most bit­terly con­tested is­sues be­tween in­cum­bents and Jio cur­rently, trig­gered by the free voice and data ser­vices be­ing of­fered by Mukesh Ama­bani-con­trolled new en­trant. How­ever, the reg­u­la­tor has said that since there is cur­rently no reg­u­la­tion pro­hibit­ing a tele­com op­er­a­tor from of­fer­ing one pro­mo­tional of­fer af­ter an­other, it couldn’t pro­hibit Jio from of­fer­ing the ser­vices. It has also ruled that Jio’s of­fers are non-preda­tory

In the lat­est pa­per, Trai ad­mits to this be­ing a loop­hole, say­ing, “non-pre­da­tion”' has not been specif­i­cally de­fined in the TTO.”

Ra­jan Mathews, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Cel­lu­lar Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (COAI), said the is­sues raised in the pa­per were “very per­ti­nent to the in­dus­try at this point of time”.

TRAI BE­LIEVES THERE IS A NEED TO:

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