Jio alleges rivals inciting public by portraying it anti-farmer; Airtel, VIL refute charges

PTI, Dec 15, 2020, 9:37 AM IST

New Delhi: Telecom operator Reliance Jio has alleged that industry peers Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) are running “vicious and divisive campaign” against it and making preposterous claims that migrating Jio mobile numbers to their networks would be an act of support to farmers’ protests.

The country’s biggest telecom operator in a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has sought strict action against the two companies and said that such acts of the rival companies can jeopardise safety and security of Jio’s employees.

In response to Jio’s claims, both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have termed the complaint as “baseless” and refuted the charges.

Reliance Jio further said that earlier also it had written to Trai about “unethical and anti-competitive mobile number portability campaign” by Airtel and VIL to capitalise on farmer protests.

“We submit that Airtel and VIL remain unabated in pursuing this vicious and divisive campaign through its employees, agents and retailers. They are inciting the public by making preposterous claims that migrating Jio mobile subscribers to their networks would be an act of support to farmers’ protests,” Jio said in its latest letter.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi against the new farm laws enacted in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

Bharti Airtel in a letter to Trai said, “We wish to emphatically deny this baseless charge. 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.”

Vodafone Idea spokesperson said the company believes in doing business with ethics.

“These are baseless allegations against us to malign our reputation. We strongly refute such irresponsible comments on us,” VIL spokesperson said.

Reliance Jio alleged that the campaign is not limited to northern states and the false propaganda is being spread across the country to acquire customers through MNP.

Jio said that it has been receiving a large number of port-out requests where customers are citing campaign messages of Airtel and VIL for porting out their mobile numbers.

The company said the practice of Airtel and VIL is in violation of requirements under telecom tariff order of 1999.

“We also reiterate that such illegal actions with blatant use of sales teams and channel partners to instigate feelings against RJIL can severely jeopardise safety and security of our personnel as well as vital network and business installation of the ground,” Jio said.

Bharti Airtel had pipped Reliance Jio in new mobile subscriber addition in September after a gap of four years.

Reliance Jio had maintained leadership position in monthly mobile subscriber addition since the launch of its commercial operations in September 2016.

It had added 15.97 million new customers when it commenced commercial operations.

Bharti Airtel led mobile subscriber growth in September 2020 with a net addition of 3.77 million new customers.

It was followed by Reliance Jio with net addition of 1.46 million and BSNL with 78,454 new customers.

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