Airtel denies forming cartel to distort competition

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New Delhi, Apr 7: Country's largest telecom service provider Bharti Airtel today denied allegations of forming a cartel with other GSM players to distort the competition for increasing tariffs. ''There is no question of cartelisation. In a competitive industry like this (telecom), nobody will allow any other player to be at a higher pedestal,'' Bharti Group CMD Sunil Mittal told reporters here.

He said in such a competitive industry if Airtel reduces tariff today everybody will follow suit within 24 hours. Last week, anti-monopoly watchdog Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) had issued a notice of enquiry against three GSM players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular for allegedly forming a cartel to distort competition by increasing tariffs simultaneously.

The local call charges were increased from Re 1 to Rs 1.20 per minute, while the STD rates were increased by 10 per cent on a few pre-paid plans.

The MRTPC's investigative wing Director General of Investigations and Registrations (DGIR) had noted that these telecom service providers have simultaneously increased the price by colluding.

It has directed the companies to file their reply before it within four weeks. The next hearing is scheduled for July 31.


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