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Playground insults continue as Indian mobile war escalates

Location India. Red pin on the map.

Sometimes you have to wonder whether we’re actually dealing with adults at some of these operators, with the levels of petulance in the Indian market reaching new levels.

India has proved to be one of the more controversial and competitive markets over the last couple of months, and there has been a fair bit of mud-slinging as well. This week has seem the arguments escalate further as accusations of unfair business practice are hurled around, with the parties all complaining to Indian regulator TRAI, according to the Financial Times.

Starting with incumbent Bharti Airtel, the telco has accused Jio of attempting to end competition in the market and form its own monopoly through unfair practises which purposely damage competitors. The issue is surrounding the number of calls which are being made by Jio customers.

As Jio is a relatively new entrant to the market, it is reliant on other networks to provide services in some cases. Generally the network owners don’t complain too much as the practise does go the other direction as well, however due to the fact that Jio customers have unlimited free calls, there has been a tsunami of activity on the networks. Bharti has claimed it is haemorrhaging cash because of this strain.

However, the plot thickens, as Bharti is not doing this for free. The company receives revenue from mobile termination charges (MTC), which Jio claim is too high.

The upstart has accused its rivals of profiting off its popularity, by charging what it believes it too much for the use of their networks. It has also been championing the removal of these charges which, as you can imagine, has not been received well. Bharti is probably the most vocal here, but Vodafone and Idea are hardly going to be thrilled by the proposal. Considering the reliance Jio has on competitor networks, it’s not difficult to work out who would benefit the most from scrapping these charges.

But of course this isn’t the end of the sage. Jio believes it will be able to offer 99% coverage by the end of 2017, and will continue to invest in this network even if the charges are dropped. It would appear the challenger is trying to make a bigger and better world for the Indian population, but let’s be completely honest, until the network is actually there you should take such claims with a pinch of salt. It wouldn’t be the first time a telco has changed its mind as there was an opportunity to make more money.

While it might be too much to ask telcos to get along like a happy family, it shouldn’t be too much to ask for a suitable level of maturity. The chest beating, ego stroking, name calling and taddle telling is all getting a bit too much now.


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