After Jio’s purported allegations that channel partners of rival telcos were inciting and provoking agitators involved in tower disruption, Airtel and Vodafone Idea have hit back terming the charges as baseless, false and outrageous.
Airtel in a letter to Department of Telecom (DoT) said Jio’s allegations against it did not demonstrate any evidence that Bharti had any hand in the ongoing issues that the company is facing, and that the complaint should be dismissed “with the contempt that it deserves”.
The letter by Airtel to Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash said the company is aware of a complaint made by Reliance Jio to the department dated December 28, in reference to the disruption of RJIL (Reliance Jio) services due to farmer protests in Punjab and Haryana.
Airtel noted that a similar allegation had been levelled by Jio in a letter to the telecom regulator earlier in December to which the company had responded.
“The baseless allegation made by Jio that Airtel is behind the farmer agitation to ‘sabotage’ their network and to force customers to switch to Airtel is therefore simply outrageous,” Bharti Airtel’s Chief Regulatory Officer Rahul Vatts said in the letter to the DoT dated December 28.
Airtel added that Jio’s complaint does not bear any evidence that Airtel has any hand in the ongoing issues that Jio is facing.
“In fact, we are amused as to how Jio can even believe that Airtel would be so omnipotent as to make customers forcibly port out of Jio. If we had this power, we would have exercised it over the last three years when Jio amassed a massive number of customers,” Airtel said.
A VIL spokesperson said the company deplores the “false and baseless allegations” made in the “said letter”, and unequivocally denies such irresponsible reports.
“VIL will never be part of any such activity which has impact on network installations of any operator in the country. It seems a fictional conspiracy theory to implicate and cause damage to VIL,” the company said.
VIL further said it strongly condemns acts of vandalism against telecom infrastructure disrupting essential services.
Jio’s letter to the DoT had claimed that “majority of the current sabotage and damage of RJIL network in Punjab, Haryana and some other parts of the country is as a result of the blatant efforts by some of the distributors, retailer and channel partners of Airtel and VIL in a malicious and inciteful campaign to capitalise on the ongoing farmers protest”.
Jio had said the target of the campaign was to disrupt its services and leverage these disruptions to promote mobile number portability to other networks.
Jio has said in its letter that “evidences clearly and unimpeachably demonstrate the direct involvement of channel partners of Airtel and VIL in these disruptions as well as Airtel and VIL’s (Vodafone Idea) ineffectiveness in controlling them”.
A mail sent by PTI to Reliance Jio on the issue did not elicit a response.
Meanwhile, rubbishing the charges levelled against it, Airtel said Jio’s complaint against the company was “in poor taste” and urged the telecom department to dismiss this complaint “with the contempt that it deserves”.
“We have seen a history of Jio going to any length to make baseless allegations, adopt bullying tactics and use intimidatory behaviour to suit their purposes and meet their goals. This is another such instance,” Airtel said in its letter to the DoT.
Airtel said that it has operated in the telecom industry for 25 years, during which it had competed hard in the market place to serve customers with excellence. The telecom firm asserted that it has always conducted business with character and transparency.
“The irony of the situation is that while the operating teams were having several conversations over the last few days on how to provide support to the Jio teams based on their request, Jio was actually spending time drafting frivolous letters and making scurrilous allegations,” Airtel said.
Airtel said it strongly condemns any person disrupting telecom networks or services to customers.
“Telecom is an essential infrastructure and we believe it is against the law to indulge in such acts. As a matter of fact, we have always advocated firm government action to ensure 100 per cent continuity of networks,” it added.
Airtel urged the DoT to bring forth a policy to mandate ICR (Intra circle roaming) in such situations of vandalism and network outages as a matter of course so that customers were never inconvenienced.