Trai Seeks Industry Views on Predatory Pricing, Other Issues
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: