That didn’t go long, Competition Commission of India (CCI) completely dismissed all the complaints and claims raised by Bharti Airtel against Reliance Jio and its promoter company Reliance Industries Limited.
The first complaint raised by Airtel was regarding the free services offered by Reliance Jio starting from 5th September 2016. But according to CCI “In order to examine the impugned free services under the provisions of Section 4 of the Act, it needs to be ascertained whether Jio enjoys a dominant position in any relevant market”. Only when a dominant position is established, it can examine whether it has used that to abuse or not. Thus CCI completely validated the free service offered by Reliance Jio during this period.
Next, Airtel raised the question of relevant market where ‘providing 4GLTE services using 4G technology’ is the relevant product market. According to Airtel, 4G technology is separate from 3G and 2G networks offering. But Reliance Jio claimed there is no difference between the telecom services offered using 4G, 3G and 2G technologies. To support this Jio provided recent Annual Report of Airtel where it itself does not differentiate between telecom services provided using different technologies.
Coming to the assessment of dominant position, CCI said it is difficult to construe dominant position being possessed by Reliance Jio with 6.4 percent market share. Airtel claims Reliance Jio got a large spectrum holding in the most premier bands. That’s 50 percent of the spectrum in 2300 MHz band and 28 percent of 1800 MHz band deployed for LTE network. Also as per the network and spectrum sharing arrangement with RCOM, Jio has access to 35 percent of the 800MHz band as well.
But Reliance Jio contended that as, Airtel holds the maximum spectrum in 1800 MHz band, which is the most efficient band for operating the 4G network. Also, CCI observed that there is already certain regulatory requirements set by DoT that cap the overall and band-wise spectrum holding by telecom operators.
Another major complaint raised by Airtel is that Reliance Jio has unfettered access to the funds of Reliance Industries Limited. CCI noted that “financial strength is relevant but not the sole factor in determining the dominant position of an enterprise. Considering comparable investments and financial strengths of competitors, the success of Reliance Jio in managing large scale investments does not suggest dominant position being enjoyed by Jio.”
“In the absence of any dominant position being enjoyed by Reliance Jio in the relevant market, the question of examining the alleged abuse does not arise,” said CCI in its 17-page order. “Based on all facts Reliance Jio do not appear to raise any competition concern at this stage. There is no prima facie case of contravention of Section 4(2)(a)(ii) of the Act is made out against Reliance Jio”.
You can read the complete order by Competition Commission of India right below.
Source/Input – Rohan Yadav