Jio Asks DoT to Levy Penalty on Bharti Airtel Over Apple Watch Service

Telecom operator Reliance Jio, in its latest move, has asked the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) to take severe action and levy penalty on Bharti Airtel over Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular variant service. Jio accused Airtel of violating license conditions because the telco is claimed of using a network of nodes that are used to pair the iPhone and Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular variant, based abroad. These network nodes could lead to a security breach. Jio wrote to DoT seeking ‘severe action’ and ‘strictest of penalties’ on the country’s leading telecom operator.

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In a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) dated May 12, Jio said that Bharti Airtel has not set up the “eSIM provisioning node in India and the node being used to provide Apple Watch Series 3 is currently located outside India in gross violation of license terms”. This news was reported by Economic Times first.

Reliance Jio further added that locating the e-SIM provisioning node outside India will lead to the national security breach and also termed the issue as “deliberate and gross violation” of Unified License terms and conditions. However, the publication reports that Airtel has denied Jio’s accusations, but there was no official statement from the company yet.

Also, the maximum penalty for breaching license conditions is as high as Rs 50 crore per circle, meaning if these claims from Jio proved to be true, Airtel has to pay Rs 50 crore for each and for the entire 22 telecom circles in India.

“Airtel has deliberately chosen to install a critical network element outside India for a service being offered under the Access Services License indicates its blatant disregard for the sanctity of the license terms and conditions including important security conditions,” said Jio in the statement seen by ET.

Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio recently introduced the Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular variant in India. Both the operators announced that users can always access services such as voice calls, SMS and data even though their iPhone is away, thanks to the new eSIM service. While Jio is offering the service free for every user, Airtel is restricting the service to only its postpaid users.

Jio also asked DoT to halt the Airtel Apple Watch Service immediately and start it “only upon complying with the requirements of national security and addressing the violations of the license terms and conditions”.

This is not the first time both the telcos are involved in such banters. Last month, Jio accused Airtel of misleading customers with its IPL 2018 ad, which eventually the Delhi court set aside very recently. It will be interesting to see how Airtel tackles this new issue.

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