TDSAT Seeks Trai Clarification on Jio’s Free Offers
New Delhi: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to submit clarifications in about a week on Reliance Jio Infocomm’s free voice and data services, including whether the company had kept the watchdog in the loop on its promotional offers.
This followed the Trai clearing Jio’s free ‘Happy New Year’ voice calling and data plan last week on the grounds that it was different from its previous promotional scheme, known as the Welcome Offer. The tribunal has asked for the clarifications to be submitted by February 15 and its next hearing is scheduled for February 20.
It has sought details related to “whether the service provider had informed TRAI that the offer B (Happy New Year offer) was distinct from offer A (Welcome Offer)... and filed with TRAI as per provisions.”
Airtel and Idea had filed a petition with TDSAT accusing the regulator of allowing Jio to offer the same promotional offer of free voice and data services beyond the stipulated 90-day period by giving it a different name. The incumbents wanted the regulator instructed to bar what it said were Jio’s “illegal” services as they violated Trai’s telecom tariff orders, which restrict promotional offers to 90 days, which ended December 3. The operators allege that the two offers are one and the same.
TDSAT also asked the regulator to say whether the offers and their implementation were in accordance with the Telecom Tariff Order and the Telecom Consumers Protection Regulation. It also asked the regulator to clarify whether Jio informed users the two offers were different and obtained “subscribers’ consent.” Other points raised include whether the offer constituted a tariff plan, a special tariff voucher or something else.
While Airtel and Idea have termed the Happy New Year offer as predatory pricing, Trai has stated that Jio's didn’t violate the principles of non-discrimination, interconnect rule compliance and nonpredation. Jio has also said it hasn’t violated any rules.
The regulator had further said the Happy New Year offer launched on December 4 last year was distinct from the Welcome Offer. It could not be treated as an extension of earlier offer as their benefits differ.