TDSAT Seeks Trai Clar­i­fi­ca­tion on Jio’s Free Of­fers

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Our Bureau

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.

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