DoT rejects TRAI objections on Loop/Airtel deal

2 Jul 2014

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has rejected the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI’s) objections to Bharti Airtel’s acquisition of Mumbai-based cellco Loop Mobile, the Economic Times writes citing a senior official. The TRAI had opposed the deal, claiming that the acquisition violated rules on licensing and mobile number portability (MNP) on the basis that the customers transferred through the deal were being ported over involuntarily. Dismissing the TRAI’s opinion, the unnamed official noted that ‘by [the TRAI’s] logic, no company will be able to acquire another.’ Indeed, the official pointed out that customers could use MNP to port out if they are unsatisfied with Airtel’s service. TRAI was also technically incorrect in saying that Airtel would be acquiring government resources, as Loop’s concession – and corresponding spectrum resources – are due to expire soon, so Airtel will only be acquiring the company’s infrastructure and customers.