ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Conflict between Regulation and Competition Law in the Indian Telecom Sector

The debate regarding the respective realms of competition law and economic regulation is not new. In the Indian context, complaints filed against the telecom incumbents Airtel, Vodafone and Idea by Reliance Jio before the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the Competition Commission of India bring to the fore such an example. This case is analysed primarily through the legal standpoint, and it is argued that competition law intervention is warranted only in “gap” cases: where the regulatory regime cannot account for consumer welfare. Where the regulatory and competition agency reach conflicting decisions, the issue can be resolved by a third body whose decision is binding on both the regulator and the competition agency.

Modi, Mukesh and a Moment in Time

It is unclear if Reliance will cripple Airtel, Idea and Vodafone by its audacious moves.

Regulating the Regulators

India established several independent regulators in sectors like electricity, telecommunications and insurance after economic liberalisation. This article discusses how these regulators can be effectively scrutinised and oversight by legislative bodies strengthened.

Corporatisation of the Media

The entry of Reliance Industries, India's largest corporate entity in the private sector, into the country's media industry in a major way with strategic associations with the Network18 group and the Eenadu group, has been perceived as an instance of consolidation in a sector in which big players have been steeped in debt and strapped for cash over the past few years. What the formation of the new media conglomerate (arguably one of the largest, if not the largest, in India) in the shake-out also signifies is growing concentration of ownership in an oligopolistic market that could lead to loss of media heterogeneity and plurality.

Telecom Regulation and Consumer Welfare

Neither the telecom companies nor the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) have assisted in the participation of consumer bodies in an intelligent and effective manner in the TRAI's consultative processes. True, Indian telecom consumers now have a wider choice and prices too have tended to come down, but yet there are many areas of concern to consumers. Some of the important ones are discussed here.

Competition in International Long Distance Telecom Services

The recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to permit entry of private companies into international long distance (ILD) telecom services is to be welcomed, all the more because no limit is proposed on the number of licensees providing ILD services. However, many of the conditions it is seeking to impose on the licensees do not meet the cardinal test which should be: is the consumer going to be disadvantaged if this condition is not imposed?
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