Reliance Jio accused of malpractice by COAI, Jio warns of legal action

Reliance Jio threatened to take legal action against the lobby group of telecom operators, Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) on Monday, accusing it of defamation and damaging its interests. This came in response to the second COAI letter to the PMO, accusing the company of payment and revenue share evasion. Reliance Jio, in a letter, addressed to Rajan S. Mathews the DG at COAI, accused the telecom lobby of breach of trust, fraudulent behavior, and grossly misrepresenting facts with an intent to malign and damage the interests of the telecom company.

The letter said, “Reliance Jio reserves all its rights to take any or all available legal recourse against COAI, including anyone who were parties to such acts, in their individual or other capacities.”

The COAI conveyed to the PMO that out of Reliance Jio’s 3 million active 4G users, around 2.5 million of are given free data. This is being disguised as a pre-launch test. The lobby raised concerns of a non-level playing field due to this act.

The letter from COAI said that the internet usage traffic generated by the so-called beta-test rivals the combined data of the rest of the operators who have been in the business for 12-20 years The spectrum being used by the company has been allocated for commercial purposes, yet it does not yield any revenue or share.

Previously on 11 August, COAI had written to the office accusing the TRAI of bias towards existing telecom operators to the favour of Reliance Jio.

Reliance Jio countered this argument saying that COAI is promoting the formation of a cartel disguised as a cause for the industry. According to Reliance, this perpetrates anti-competitive practices and misleads the stakeholders.

A similar spat between existing and new operators occurred in 2002 when Reliance Infocomm (now Reliance Communications Ltd) started its telecom services. The official also rejected the allegations that Reliance Jio has fully rolled out its services without a formal launch.

COAI, which represents all the leading telecom operators had written to the Department of Telecommunication, accusing Reliance Jio of not complying with the regulations and providing full services in the form of tests using the resources of the existing telecom companies.

The accused company termed the COAI allegations “malicious and ill-informed” in a letter to the DoT. The most interesting fact is that Reliance Jio is a member of COAI. This kind of a battle between the two entities is bound to create a cold war.