Watchdog rejects cartelisation claims

29 Jan 2014

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has rejected allegations from state-backed cellco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) that rival wireless providers Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular acted as a cartel during the 2010 3G spectrum auction. The Economic Times writes that the anti-trust watchdog found no evidence of cartelisation amongst the trio. BSNL had claimed that the three cellcos had ‘co-ordinated in such a way that, rather than competing amongst themselves, they had ensured that at least one of the operators had a presence in every circle in India.’ Elaborating on its claims, BSNL accused the trio of entering ‘into illegal roaming arrangements amongst themselves to secure roaming rights over areas for which they had not bid.’

The CCI rejected the accusations, pointing out that if BSNL’s scenario was correct, ‘the total number of licences would have been 22 and not 33’, adding that BSNL had not provided any further information suggesting that the operators had formed a cartel.

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