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CCI stays its probe into Airtel, Idea, Vodafone: report

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Friday stayed its investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Airtel, Idea, Vodafone India for apparently trying to block Reliance Jio’s entry into the market, reports Economic Times. The commission rescheduled proceedings until July 28. The decision came after Idea filed a petition seeking a stay until TRAI and Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) takes a stance on the issue.

Idea had separately challenged CCI’s probe into its telecom unit and incumbents—Airtel and Vodafone—with the Bombay HC for alleged cartelisation charges. The CCI probe was initiated in May. Telecom lobby association COAI was also named as a party in Jio’s complaint; the CCI has given a two-week extension for telcos to file their replies with the commission, the report added.

What Jio said in its complaint against incumbents and COAI

Jio had alleged in its complaint that Airtel, Idea and Vodafone had formed a cartel to restrict its operations by denying interconnection points. CCI is also probing alleged MNP blocking of users who were trying to shift to Jio. The interrogation was conducted under Section 26(1) the Competition Act, which looks into the investigation of complaints made under antitrust charges.

CCI had dropped Airtel’s complaint against Jio: Airtel had lost a legal case last month against Jio, filed with the CCI. Airtel, in its complaint, alleged that Jio was involved in predatory pricing and used its dominant position in other markets to enter and penetrate the telecom market. The CCI dismissed Airtel’s complaints against Jio after no prima facie evidence was presented for most of the complaints. More on this here.

Jio v/s rival operators

Jio and its rivals have clashed on a number of issues like:
Internet speeds
Allegations of regulatory violations
PoI blockades
Impartial voting rights at COAI

This has also led to a number of legal cases:
TRAI v/s Airtel, Idea (TDSAT) on allegations that Jio violated tariff regulations and that TRAI was a “mute spectator”.
Vodafone v/s Jio and TRAI (Delhi HC) wherein Vodafone alleged that TRAI failed to keep a check on Jio and its free offers.
Vodafone v/s TRAI challenging telecom regulator TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty. TRAI had imposed a combined fine of Rs 3050 crore on Airtel, Idea and Vodafone stating they were found to “willfully violate the license conditions” by denying interconnection point to Jio.
Jio’s original complaint to CCI last year.

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