GSM Operators get slammed for forming cartel

MRTPC’s investigative unit DGIR has issued issued ‘notice of enquiry’ against GSM operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular for allegedly forming a cartel (together they control around 65% of the GSM-based mobile services market) to distort competition.

The report is triggerred by the simultaneous price increase by these operators (they announced the same hike on the same day!)

The report stated that despite having different cost factors, structures and profits, they all fixed the tariff of their local call at Rs 1.20 a minute…though the rental and tariff charges of calls and SMS fall under the forbearance category under the Telecommunications Tariff (23rd amendment) and GSM operators are free to fix any tariff for their services, “But it can not be mere coincidence” that the tariff revision by them is of the identical scale.” – source

There are more coincidences – for e.g. all the three respondents revision of tariff rates effective from same date (i.e. August 10-13 in 2007) but all intimated the Trai post revision on same day (i.e. August 16, 2007).

While the result of this investigation may not be surprising, what’s really good to know is the presence of a watchdog which can monitor the unethical practices as well as the dogfight (between cdma and gsm operators and between each player too) that’s going on in the indian telecom industry.

What combination do you think makes an interesting dogfight?
Airtel vs. Reliance? Or Virgin vs. the rest?

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