The biggest telecom player in the market is accusing its rivals of using the ongoing farmers’ protest to port out customers to their services. 

Sounds frivolous? That’s because it probably is. 

Jio’s Allegations

Reliance Jio, which is the biggest telecom company of India, approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) accusing rivals Airtel and Vodafone Idea of using the farmers’ protest to port customers away from its service. 

In its complaint to TRAI, Jio wrote, “Airtel and VI are pursuing a “vicious” and “divisive” campaign through its employees, agents and retailers. In order to read meagre gains in port-in numbers, these service providers are intentionally defaming RJIL by depicting it as against the farmers and projecting themselves as farmer-friendly while at the same time intentionally fanning the anti-government protests.

The farm bills, against which the farmers’ protest is going on in full swing, are alleged to be beneficial for corporate powerhouses and big industrial companies, and that includes Jio. So, many protestors took to calling for a boycott of Reliance products like Jio, JioSaavn and more. 

Reliance, however, is accusing its telecom sector rivals of adding fuel to the fire and taking advantage of the protestors’ ire. 

That’s right, the company which has the largest share in the telecom market and the largest subscriber base is crying foul because a few of its subscribers decided to ditch its service.

Also Read: Here’s Why ‘#Boycott_JioSaavn’ Is Trending In India Today

Airtel And Vodafone’s Response

Airtel replied to the allegations saying, “Despite being provoked by some competitors who we know will go to any length to make baseless allegations, adopt bullying tactics and use intimidatory behaviour, we have always conducted our business with character and transparency; something that we are deeply proud of and known for…It [the complaint] is in poor taste and is scurrilous, to say the least.

Vi believes in doing business with ethics. These are baseless allegations against us to malign our reputation. We strongly refute such irresponsible comments on us,” said Vodafone Idea.

In terms of wireless subscribers, Reliance Jio has a 35.19% market share while Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) have 28.44% and 25.73% respectively. 

There’s no doubt that Jio’s entry into the telecom industry changed how much Indians have access to and use the internet. 

Back in 2016, when Jio entered the market with all guns blazing, the dirt-cheap prices and the lure of free data was enough to send consumers into a tizzy. 

My own Jio SIM card lies in the dust somewhere in my house. (For all its promises, I was disappointed when the signal strength was non-existent in our neighbourhood back then. We have since then not attempted to switch to a Jio SIM card again.)

It’s a shame that Reliance is trying to besmirch its competition, of which it is miles ahead at the moment anyway, through such allegations. 

Jio’s Time In The Telecom Sector – A Monopoly In The Making? 

The Jio effect was immediate. To compete with Jio’s cheap prices, competitors drastically reduced their prices and increased benefits like data consumption and talk time. 

But of course, there were some shake-ups in the process. Unable to keep up with the rapid changes, Vodafone and Idea merged to become Vodafone Idea (Vi). 

Jio runs the market with a lion’s share of more than 402 million subscribers, while Airtel has slumped to a second rank with nearly 326 million. Even after the merger, Vodafone Idea has a subscriber base of 295 million as of September 2020.

Reliance is present in virtually every part of Indian’s life. Be it energy, technology, clothing, defence or even groceries, there’s almost nothing that Reliance hasn’t set its eyes on, which is exactly why regulatory bodies should be concerned that a monopoly is in the making. 

The widespread concern is that Jio, which is dominating the market at present using tactics that are considered to be anti-competitive by some, will eventually become a full-fledged monopoly by jacking up prices after capturing the market. 

Mukesh Ambani, the man behind Jio, is the richest person of India, his wealth increasing by billions in the pandemic.

And now, Jio is collaborating with the likes of Facebook, which is currently being sued in the US for its anti-competitive and predatory practices, in what will likely give the company a comfortable means to become a monopoly in the Indian economy. 

The US is finally taking steps to rein in big companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon and make them accountable for the countless small businesses they’ve shut and the immense personal data they possess of millions of citizens. It’s time India looks into the same before it’s too late.

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: NDTV, Business Standard, TRAI

Find the blogger: @RoshniKahaHain

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