Vodafone Idea hits out at Jio for baseless allegations over tower disruptions, port-outs

Mumbai: Vodafone Idea has joined Bharti Airtel in refuting competitor Reliance Jio’s allegations that channel partners of the two rivals were inciting and provoking agitators involved Jio tower disruptions and promoting port-outs from the telco in Punjab and Haryana.

The latest battle of words between telcos comes at a time when Jio has requested the telecom department to suspend mobile number portability in Punjab and Haryana.

“VIL will never be part of any such activity which has impact on network installations of any operator in the country. It (Jio’s allegation) seems a fictional conspiracy theory to implicate and cause damage to VIL,” Vodafone Idea (Vi) said on Sunday.

The telco condemned “acts of vandalism” against telecom infrastructure but added, “We equally deplore the false and baseless allegations made in the said letter, and unequivocally deny such irresponsible reports.”

The above responses were on back of Mukesh Ambani-led Jio’s appeal to the telecom department to suspend mobile number portability in Punjab and Haryana, and take “strict action” against Vi and Airtel for “unethical unscrupulous practices” by their channel partners.

Responding to Jio’s allegation, Airtel’s chief regulatory officer Rahul Vatts had in a letter to DoT secretary Anshu Prakash dated December 28 said: “The baseless allegation made by Jio that Airtel is behind the farmer agitation to ‘sabotage’ their network and to force customers to switch to Airtel is simply outrageous.”

Telecom services have been disrupted in Punjab after some people supporting farmers agitating against new farm laws – which they allege will benefit Mukesh

Ambani-owned Reliance Industries and Gautam Adani’s Adani Group at the cost of farmers though neither of these groups currently procure food grains from farmers – disconnected power supplies and cut fibre of telecom towers, most of which belonged to or were being used by Jio, in Punjab and Haryana. Also, many people have been porting out of Jio in support of farmer protests.

According to Jio’s letter to DoT secretary, also dated December 28, these practices of rivals including disruption of Jio’s services and promoting MNPs at a time when at least 1,504 Jio towers in Punjab and 85 towers in Haryana have been affected.

“Take strict action against Vi and Airtel for these unethical unscrupulous practices by their channel partners in violations of the Indian Telegraph Act, and to issue necessary instructions/directions to them to stop such malicious campaigns with immediate effect,” the letter said.

“Suspend MNP process in Punjab and Haryana LSAs for the time being, till the situation gets stabilised, as this process is being misused for unlawful activities, and its suspension will be in Public Interest as it will help in reducing destruction of towers and threat to Jio employees,” it added .

Since the tower disruption there has been multiple appeals by Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and appeals were made by telecom industry associations, too.

In fact, Jio had earlier complained to the regulator that it was losing subscribers because of “frivolous rumours” spread by its rivals that that the Mukesh Ambani-led company will gain from the farm bills.

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