Bharti Airtel makes big accusation against Reliance Jio; What it said

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New Delhi | Published: September 7, 2017 4:42:46 AM

Refuting claims made by Reliance Jio that incumbent telecom operators have pocketed around Rs 1 lakh crore in the last five years due to non-implementation of the Trai report on IUC which had talked about moving towards the bill-and-keep model, Bharti Airtel has said the new entrant is “misleading” the regulator and public by “maligning” its competitors.

Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone, IdeaAs per Jio’s claims, Bharti, Vodafone and Idea have pocketed around Rs 46,958 crore, Rs 28,904 crore and Rs 28,752 crore, respectively, in the last five fiscals.

Refuting claims made by Reliance Jio that incumbent telecom operators have pocketed around Rs 1 lakh crore in the last five years due to non-implementation of the Trai report on IUC which had talked about moving towards the bill-and-keep model, Bharti Airtel has said the new entrant is “misleading” the regulator and public by “maligning” its competitors.

On the contrary, the country’s largest telecom operator said, it has suffered a loss of more than Rs 6,800 crore in the last five years beginning FY13 due to lower IUC (interconnect usage charge).

“Not only are the facts presented by Reliance Jio grossly incorrect, but they seem to have been misrepresented with the specific purpose of maligning other operators and misleading the Trai and the public at large,” Bharti said on Wednesday in a letter to Trai chairman RS Sharma, which was seen by FE.

Bharti’s chief regulatory officer Ravi Gandhi said during Trai’s workshop on IUC last month, Jio claimed that the incumbent operators — Bharti, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular — have benefited by almost Rs 1 lakh crore during 2012-13 and 2016-17 due to non-implementation of the Trai report of 2011. Countering Jio’s claims, Gandhi contended that the telecom arm of Reliance Industries has not revealed the source of the information. Besides, the quantum of IUC received by Bharti has been indicated at a gross level. “Even the gross termination charges indicated to have been received by Bharti are much higher than what has been actually received by Bharti,” he said.

As per Jio’s claims, Bharti, Vodafone and Idea have pocketed around Rs 46,958 crore, Rs 28,904 crore and Rs 28,752 crore, respectively, in the last five fiscals beginning 2012-13. The figures are calculated on present value basis.

“Bharti has only received net IUC of Rs 7,795 crore in the last five years. Even at present value, the net IUC received stands at Rs 9,417 crore. It is pertinent to mention that this is net receipt and not excess receipt as indicated by Jio,” Gandhi said. On the contrary, he said Bharti in the last five years had incurred significant losses due to the termination charges being “well below the cost of 30-35 paise per minute”.

“Bharti has, therefore, incurred a loss of 10-16 paise per minute on an ongoing basis as the termination charges have been 20 paise per minute from FY13 to FY15 and 14 paise from FY16. The loss to Bharti on account of below-cost IUC has been to the tune of `6,800 crore in the last five years on present value basis,” Gandhi said.

“This is not the first time that Jio has adopted such tactics. Even during its representation to the inter-ministerial group, Jio had come up with misleading claims that existing operators have not infused enough equity into their operations and instead taken on debt. The truth is completely different though,” he added.

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