However, CCI, in its order said that in a competitive market scenario, where there are already big players operating in the market, it would not be “anti-competitive for an entrant to incentivise customers towards its own services by giving attractive offers and schemes.”
Such short-term business strategy of an entrant to penetrate the market and establish its identity cannot be considered to be anti-competitive in nature and as such cannot be a subject matter of investigation, CCI said.
Airtel declined to comment on the order.
Airtel, in its complaint, had also alleged that free service by Jio was an outcome of leveraging of dominant position by RIL as well as anti-competitive agreement between the two entities. However, CCI in its order said mere investments cannot be regarded as leveraging of dominant position.
“If one were to construe such investment as anti-competitive, the same would deter entry or expansion and limit the growth of markets,” the order said.
The regulator also said financial strength is relevant but not the sole factor to determine dominant position of an enterprise.
“The commission does not find it appropriate to hold Reliance Jio dominant in a scenario where its customers constitute less than 7 per cent of the total subscriber base at pan-India level,” it said. CCI said in the absence of any dominant position being enjoyed by Jio, the question of examining the alleged abuse does not arise. “Notwithstanding this, the offers of Jio do not appear to raise any competition concern at this stage,” CCI noted.