Complaints against all telecom providers except Bharti Airtel dropped in 2016, possibly in reaction to the emergence of new operator Reliance Jio and the explosion of 4G data capacity.
The total number of complaints lodged with the regulator TRAI against telecom firms dropped 15% in 2016 to 19,774 from 23,293 in 2015 and 20,386 in 2014.
Similarly, in the first two months of this year, there were only 2,539 complaints, which would suggest that the full-year number will be around 15,000 for 2017.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India does not directly adjudicate individual complaints against telecom services providers. In some states, district consumer forums adjudicate such matters, while in others, district forums do not entertain complaints against telecom companies. As such, many hapless consumers write to the TRAI even though it doesn’t scrutinize individual complaints.
These complaints are passed on to the service providers by the regulator.
There were no complaints lodged against Reliance Jio last year, but the new operator saw 63 complaints against it at TRAI in the first two months of 2017.
Still, that is much lower than complaints against Airtel, which saw 733 in the first two months, Vodafone (638) and Idea (321). Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications, which shut down its CDMA services in 2016, generated more complaints than Idea in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and was at number three, after Vodafone.
Interestingly, Bharti Airtel was the only player that saw an increase in the number of complaints in 2016 compared to the previous year.
Even as the total complaints went down by 15%, those against Airtel rose by 8%. In fact, in 2014, Vodafone was the No. 1 in India in terms of TRAI complaints, but Airtel overtook the company in the next year and further widened its lead in 2016.