TDSAT asks TRAI to re-examine Jio free plans, declines stay on predatory offer

Jio Money in India
Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has asked Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to re-examine issues pertaining to Reliance Jio’s free promotional offers.

However, TDSAT did not offer any stay on the predatory voice and data plans offered by Reliance Jio.

TRAI needs to re-examine the issues and inform TDSAT within two weeks, according to a report in IANS.

The newcomer, Reliance Jio Infocomm, launched free voice and data plan in September 2016 and had extended the promotional offer till March 31, 2017. During the promotional period, Jio added 100 million 4G subscribers — affecting the revenue of big telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone India, Tata Docomo and Reliance Communications.

Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, two top GSM operators, had lodged a complaint with the telecom tribunal against TRAI for letting Reliance Jio continue with promotional offers beyond 90 days.

However, the telecom tribunal did not order a stay, as was sought by the incumbent telecom operators. Last week, the tribunal had reserved its order on an appeal by the two mobile operators.

TRAI in February told the telecom tribunal that Reliance Jio’s mobile Internet tariff plans adhered to the regulations and existing tariff orders.

TRAI said the two offers by Jio — Welcome Offer and Happy New Year Offer — are different from each other as the freebies offered by it are different. TRAI clarified that Happy New Year offer is valid till 2 March 2017 and starting on December 3, 2016.

TDSAT in January said mobile subscribers’ interest is paramount, while hearing a case where Bharti Airtel has challenged TRAI’s permission to Reliance Jio for continuing its free offers.

TDSAT said it understands the predicament of TRAI, against which Bharti Airtel has lodged the case.

TDSAT, nonetheless, said while the ruling has to “balance the interest of operators”, the “primary interest is of the consumer.”

The quasi-judicial body has asked the TRAI to take a decision on Reliance Jio’s 4G free offer within “reasonable time”.

This, after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for TRAI, has submitted that a large number of similar applications are before TRAI, warranting similar action, and that 10 days’s time to take a call on the matter and spell out the final decision is not sufficient.