The Indian anti-monopoly watchdog has alleged that mobile operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular have been operating a cartel, reports The Times of India. The government body has accused the three operators of colluding together and increasing their tariffs simultaneously.
The director general of investigations and registrations, a quasi-judicial body, claimed that, despite different cost factors, structures, areas of operation, subscriber base and profit, all three firms fixed local call tariffs at Rs 1.20 (US$0.03) per minute. He stated that, while operators were free to fix any tariff for their services, it could not be mere coincidence that the tariff revisions were identical.
Responding to the allegations, Bharti Airtel said it remains fully committed to offering affordable products and services to its customers. “We have led the mobile growth story by launching innovative and affordable products that have made mobile telephony a household phenomenon,” the operator said in a statement. The government has directed the three companies to file their reply within four weeks.