Devender Sikri, head of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), weighed in on the controversial topic of so-called predatory pricing, arguing it is not the appropriate time to intervene on the matter, The Economic Times (ET) reported.
He told the newspaper market conditions do not call for regulatory intervention to limit discriminatory pricing by leading mobile operators.
Sikri’s comment comes after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last month changed how it defines significant market power, allowing only operators with less than a 30 per cent share of subscribers to have pricing flexibility. Previously, market power was based on an operator’s volume of traffic and network capacity. TRAI also said operators aren’t allowed to give individual subscribers special pricing plans to retain them, and must offer all customers the same tariff plan, ET reported.
Last week the regulator demanded market leader Bharti Airtel share details of its “non-transparent and discriminatory tariffs” offered to consumers after TRAI received complaints from consumers and other operators. It gave Airtel until 25 March to respond.
The three leading mobile players – Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular – complain the new formula favours Reliance Rio and are challenging the decision in court. Some of the operators argue the order is unconstitutional as it prevents them from taking steps to retain subscribers and run their businesses.
An interim order issued by the Madras High Court effectively allows Vodafone – and possibly Airtel and Idea – to give segmented offers to specific subscribers until the case is settled, ET reported. The decision stays the regulator’s new formula for determining predatory pricing. The court will hear the case on 13 April.