In a further escalation of the dispute between Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, the former has complained to the department of telecom (DoT) claiming that the latter is violating license conditions in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by tagging prepaid subscribers as postpaid. In its letter to the DoT on Tuesday, the country’s largest telecom operator said that the prepaid subscribers are “tactically and deliberately” being tagged as postpaid for “economic gain and competitive advantage” and this is at the cost of “national security”.
“We wish to bring to your kind notice the serious lapse in compliance to licensor’s instructions and grave security threat that is looming large due to the manipulation by one of the operators, Reliance Jio, in gross violation of the license conditions, both in letter and spirit, is resorting to claiming 95% of its subscriber base (approximately 7 lakh customers) as postpaid, even though such subscribers are actually prepaid subscribers. This act on the part of RJIL could jeopardize the move to block the telecommunication services to the prepaid customers from the very root,” Bharti said. Jio, which launched services in the September 2016, had offered free data and voice to its subscribers for the first six months of operations.
Bharti further claimed, “In the case of RJIL, the prepaid subscribers tactically and deliberately are being tagged as postpaid purely for its economic gain and competitive advantage, at the cost of national security and putting the lives of our security forces in danger, when they are battling an unprecedented situation in the Kashmir valley. By virtue of the number of subscribers to whom RJIL continues to provide services, the entire intent of the Authorities to control spreading of information and communication by anti-national elements is being nullified.”
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When contacted, a Jio spokesperson said, “The allegations made by Airtel are completely baseless, malicious and tantamount to wilful disparagement against RJIL. First and foremost, there are no differences in the stipulated process to be followed for onboarding prepaid or postpaid customers. Each of the processes has been strictly followed by RJIL in accordance with the stringent norms and guidelines prescribed by the DoT and the J&K government with regard to subscriber acquisition in the state.
Tariff plans offered by RJIL are fully compliant with applicable regulations and similar plans are in fact offered by all the other operators as well. The entire processes and the tariff plans have been duly and adequately informed to the authorities in a transparent manner…”