Mukesh Ambani’s Jio disagrees with Airtel, Vodafone on everything except tariffs and transparency

  • Reliance Jio has backed Airtel and Vodafone Idea against TRAI’s plans of bringing transparency to the telecom sector.
  • The telco had earlier requested TRAI to setup a common platform for listing of plans.
In what will come as a surprise to many, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has joined hands with Airtel and Vodafone Idea on a key issue. All three of them are against the government’s move to bring transparency into telecom tariffs.

Mukesh Ambani’s Jio has been going against the combine against many contentious issues with Vodafone and Airtel combine – like spectrum dues demanded by the government and even the levy of interconnect usage charges (IUC). But when it comes to coming clean about their offers to the consumers – the top telcos are in sound agreement.

Transparency is confusion says Jio

Telecom regulator TRAI had asked the telecom players to publish details of all their plans, including those that are active but not being offered to users. As per the ET Telecom report, Jio said that if plans that are not available for new users are published along with all available plans, it could be confusing for customers.
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In reality, telecom players will have to explain themselves to customers who will either demand a plan or seek an explanation. Jio also admitted that it will increase customer complaints.

While most popular plans are available to everyone on the Internet, they do not constitute “all” the plans. Telecom players choose to offer extra benefits to some customers who are high spenders that they would like to retain. Also, customers who intend to port out are also offered beneficial plans which are not available to everyone. They are referred to as counter offers.

TRAI is thinking of making them all public, but there is resistance.
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Jio’s U-turn on transparency of plans

Jio’s stance however is a U-turn from what it said three years back. In fact, when it was a newcomer, it had “few” plans and most of them were extremely attractive. It had then demanded that TRAI set up a common platform where every plan is made public.

Back then, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea were against the idea and claimed that offers and counteroffers that are aimed at retaining users had to be kept confidential to retain ‘competitive advantage’. Now, Jio which is on a level-playing field with the others wants the same.

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Jio has been against Airtel and Vodafone Idea on everything else



The telecom department however received unstinted support from Jio when it came to the hefty spectrum dues that Vodafone and Airtel were asked to pay. Jio itself paid its ₹195 crore spectrum dues and expects the others to do the same which however accounts to ₹53,000 crore and ₹35,000 crore respectively.

The Mukesh Ambani-led company had also asked the telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to reject demands for relief on payment of statutory dues to Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

Jio even targeted the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) for supporting Airtel and Vodafone in the spectrum dues battle.
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“These operators anyways were not investing sufficiently in the sector and have been shedding crocodile tears by claiming financial stress for a long time now and have not shown any inclination to modernize the networks,” said Jio in a letter to the COAI.

Jio’s flip-flop stance on charging landed calls

When it came to the levy of interconnect usage charges too Vodafone and Airtel too were on one plane - since they can gain as more calls land on their networks. An IUC charge is the basic amount that an operator from a call originating network has to pay the operator where the call lands.

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While IUC charge is generally priced into a call, Jio which has been offering unlimited free calls has been campaigning against it – and also had to increase prices due to it. Airtel and Vodafone Idea, on the other hand, had asked TRAI to increase these charges.

However, after Jio realised that charging for calls did not have an effect on its consumers, it changed its stance again. Jio, which was earlier against the IUC charges, changed its stand and asked TRAI to stop the consultation process on a new timeline to remove IUC charges.

When it comes to tariffs and consumers, all the three players are on the same page. But, transparency is not the first occasion when Jio has agreed with the other telcos. In December last year, after Airtel and Vodafone Idea increased tariffs, Jio followed suit and introduced new plans with up to 40% increase in tariffs. It proves that there are no permanent friends and enemies in the telecom sector.

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See also:

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio becomes the largest telco by revenue and subscribers - as industry shows signs of recovery

Three-year-old Jio is now making $2 billion in 3 months ⁠— and it is weeding out the low-spenders and making data addicts pay more

Panicking Vodafone-Idea users are porting to Airtel and Reliance Jio — but that might not be the solution they're looking for
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