CCI asked Airtel, Vodafone, Idea to respond Reliance jio claim

The Competition Commission of India has asked telecom operators Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India to file preliminary responses by January 31on Reliance Jio Infocomm’s complaint that they had formed a cartel to try and block its entry by denying it adequate points of interconnection.

“The commission has sought the responses by February and the hearing for the matter is in March,” people familiar with the matter told ET. On January 31, the commission will hold a sort of consultation on the matter to understand the responses of all sides, they said The commission has sought responses from the three top telcos on a number of complaints filed at the commission, including one that says they ganged up and were deliberately providing poor-quality service.

Email queries sent to Airtel, Idea and Vodafone remained unanswered till as of press time. The development adds to the ongoing tussle between the two parties. Airtel, Idea and Vodafone have already filed complaints at various legal forums, including a case filed by Vodafone at the Delhi High Court, against the penalties recommended by the telecom regulator on the three for not providing sufficient connectivity to Reliance Jio.

Airtel and Idea have filed a case against the regulator, seeking a quashing of Reliance Jio’s free voice and data plans, which they claim have been wrongly permitted.

Experts said that given the high stakes in the battle, the sector is likely to see a significant rise in the number of legal cases this year since telecom operators on both sides are going to contest any decision that could impact business.

“With the new government, litigation or challenging government/regulatory demands in courts had become a thing of the past. However, we could see a revival of that trend in the sector,” said Prashant Singhal, global leader for telecom at EY.

ET had previously reported that Reliance Jio had filed a formal complaint in November under Section 19(1) for an inquiry.

A complaint filed under Section 19 (1) allows CCI to inquire into any alleged contravention of anti-competitive agreements or abuse of dominant position in the market. As a next step, the CCI will order an investigation under Section 26 of the Competition Act and it may close the matter if it does not find anything anti-competitive. However, if the investigation finds violation of Competition Act rules, it will pass an order under Section 27.

Reliance Jio is believed to be relying heavily on the telecom regulator’s observation that the top three incumbents were not providing it adequate points of connectivity to complete calls on its network, as a result of which the company was facing as much as 75% call failure.

DoT asks Aircel to inform customers to avail MNP 

The telecom department (DoT) has instructed Aircel to send text messages to about 40 million customers telling them to ‘provisionally’ switch to other operators if they want to continue their mobile services in case the Supreme Court passes an order cancelling the airwaves allocated to the carrier in 2006.

A person familiar with the matter said that Aircel, which fears large scale churn of its subscribers if such SMSes were sent, has written back to the DoT, saying it was too premature for DoT to take action or for the telco to be sending such a message, and that they should wait till the next hearing on February 3 or till a final order is passed.

The DoT directive could cast a further shadow on the proposed merger between Aircel and Reliance Communications as well as on the latter’s deal to sell its tower business to Brookfield. A reduction in nearly 45% of Aircel’s subscriber base will impact the valuations of both transactions.

Aircel, in response, has asked the DoT not to issue such advertisements till the next hearing. It further asked the telecom department to remove the letter from its website, saying it was creating “doubts/panic” among its subscribers and vendor partners, and hurting the telco’s business.

The apex court on January 6 had warned that it would cancel Aircel’s spectrum and licence in 14 circles if two executives from parent - Malaysia's Maxis Berhad, which owns 74 per cent in the Indian company - do not appear in a lower court within two weeks in the CBI case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran. The two-week period expired on Friday but Maxis owner T Ananda Krishnan and former Maxis director Augustus Ralph Marshall, have not appeared before the court so far.

The top court also asked the DoT to look for an alternative service provider for Aircel’s nearly 91 million subscribers. DoT could even think of auctioning the spectrum, it suggested.

Aircel has 91 million subscribers in all, out of which over 38 million fall in the 14 circles that were granted 2G airwaves in 2006. The company also offers 3G services in 6 of the 14 circles, which can continue uninterrupted. But the SMSes will go to all the subscribers in the circles, leading to a potential flight of all its subscribers to its competitors.

Twitter launched new feature to find your best friend

You will no longer miss the tweets from your best friend as Twitter is testing a new feature that highlights tweets from a select, single person it thinks you should not miss.

According to a report on TechCrunch on Friday, a single person’s tweets will get their own special spot on your timeline.The feature is similar to Twitter’s ‘In Case You Missed It’ which rounds up the tweets from those accounts you more regularly engage with, or others that Twitter thinks you might like.

Like the ‘ICYMI’ feature, users can dismiss this new ‘BFF’ module when it appears, letting Twitter know that you want to see this feature less often.

“The account it chooses to show you is based on a number of signals — how often you engage with the account in question. Repeat engagement is also used to determine whether or not Twitter shows you the module at all,” the report noted, adding that the test was underway for select users on iOS, Android, and the web.

However, it was unclear how correctly Twitter has figured out whose tweets a users may want to see the most.

“…I don’t think I like anybody enough to justify this new feature you’re trying,” the report quoted a Twitter user joking.

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Vodafone high speed 4g services launched in Meghalaya

Vodafone launched its Vodafone SuperNet 4G service in Meghalaya. The service was launched today in the capital city of Shillong, and will be available across major cities and towns of Assam & North East Circles by March 2017.

The 4G launch in Shillong follows the successful launch of Vodafone SuperNetTM 4G services in Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Bongaigaon & Guwahati in Assam, Aizawl in Mizoram and Kohima in Nagaland over the past few days.

Alok Verma, Business Head–Assam & North East Circle, Vodafone India, “As a steadfast partner to Digital India, we are delighted to launch Vodafone SuperNetTM 4G in Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya."

The state is a key market for Vodafone India with 5.5 million customers in Assam & North East Circle.

Also read our previous post on Vodafone supernet 4g services launched across 17 circles | 5G TRICKS 

Idea unlimited 3G/4G data at rupees 22 per hour

Happy news for all idea 3g/4g customers, you can get unlimited 3G or 4g data at rupees 22 per hour. Idea will be launching this new unlimited 3G/4g data plan soon.

A Twitter user posted a new screenshot of idea website displaying unlimited 3G/4G data at rupees 14 per hour. But now it's not working and the launch date displayed in the picture is on January 19 th and we can hope more unlimited data plans will be launching soon from idea.

Airtel also planning to launch unlimited 3G/4g packs with hourly validity similar to idea and vodafone. This shows that the war between the telecos increasing day by day. Reliance jio welcome offers 1gb 4g daily is still active. Anyway there will be more cheap unlimited plans launching soon.

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Unlimited data and voice calls for reliance jio at 100 rupees per month after march 31,2017

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Airtel blocks e-wallet PhonePe

Mobile service provider Airtel has blocked e-wallet PhonePe with charges of violations of fair play by big players surfacing. ICICI Bank also blocked Flipkart group firm PhonePe.Customers of SBI, Bank of Baroda and Kotak Mahindra have also voiced concerns that they were unable to top up their PhonePe wallets by netbanking.

However, PhonePe said this was a temporary phenomenon for a few days due to 'service issues' and customers of Bank of Baroda and Kotak Mahindra can now use PhonePe. SBI clarified that its net banking facility has not been supporting any wallet, including that of PayTM, Freecharge, Citrus Pay , Mobikwik since last June due to "security concerns."ICICI Bank also pointed out security concerns. It recently blocked customers from accessing their accounts using PhonePe UPI's application -as the app discriminates against users of UPI apps of other banks.

Airtel did not respond to request for comment. An Airtel executive said, "We are concerned about security risks for our customers using e-wallets. When there is a transaction failure during phone bill payment (with a bank), there is a streamlined redressal mechanism, customer care service, 247 call centre and immediate reversal of paid amounts. But with wallets that is not the case. We are finding it difficult to deal with wallets and might have to re-think our digital strategy ."

PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam said, " Airtel has communicated to us that they are re-thinking digital distribution network with transition into payment bank. They said there will be new responsibilities and challenges, so it is a wait and watch situation. We have expressed our concerns to them."

Reliance jio monthly plans starts at 100 rupees after March 31

Happy news for reliance jio 4g users, you have pay only 100 rupees per month after free welcome offer which will expire on march,2017. The free voice and data offers will be Avilable for reliance jio customers for paying 100 rupees per month which is a cheap rate compared to other telecom networks. But the main problem of this new 100 rupee plan is that, this cheap 4g plan will be avilable till june,2017. It may be extended after june,2017 according to the support by the users.

Mukesh Ambani decided to launch such a cheap 4g plan for all reliance jio customers because, if there is a sudden increase in reliance jio plan price may lead to sudden decrease in jio customers. So plan price will only increased slowly. So you have to pay only 100 rupees only for month. Lets hope for more cheap offers from Reliance jio.

The company’s free voice and data offers have attracted over 72 million subscribers in four months after its commercial services were launched on September 5 last year. India’s top telcos, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, have been forced to slash data and voice rates - even offering voice for free under some plans - to counter the aggressive pricing offered by Jio. The newest entrant offers only 4G services and has claimed its affordable services will trigger a mass adoption of data as its production costs are a fraction of that of its competitors.

But for most of its 72.4 million-plus subscribers, Jio is still not the primary phone connection and the telecom operator runs the risk of losing them if it increases its rates significantly.