The telecom tribunal on Thursday did not stay Reliance Jio’s free promotional offer, but asked regulator TRAI to “re-examine” issues relating to the approval granted to the operator to continue with the freebies. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), in its order on Thursday, asked TRAI to apprise it of the “outcome and findings of the examination” within two weeks.
TDSAT last week had reserved the order on an interim appeal seeking a stay on Reliance Jio’s free offer after hearing all the parties concerned, including TRAI, incumbent operators Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, and newcomer Jio. In its interim appeal, Airtel had sought a stay on TRAI’s approval to Jio to continue with the free services. It had also sought a direction to the regulator to produce all the records related to its decision.
The appeal also sought to restrain Jio from providing its consumers the zero tariff plan and promotional plans. Jio had launched the inaugural free voice and data plan in September last year, and in December, extended the freebies till March 31, 2017. Following this, the existing players such as Airtel and Idea moved the telecom tribunal against TRAI for letting the new operator continue the free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days. ALSO READ: After Airtel, Idea approaches TDSAT to protest against TRAI’s approval of Jio promotional offer
The operators criticized the regulator for being a “mute spectator” to the alleged violations. On January 31, TRAI had held that Jio’s free voice calling and data plan were not violation of the regulatory guidelines. TRAI had further said its examination had revealed that. The ‘Happy New Year Offer’ launched by Jio on December 4, 2016, is distinct from its earlier Jio Welcome Offer and could not be treated as an extension of the promotional offer as the benefits under both differed. ALSO READ: TDSAT asks TRAI to furnish details on Reliance Jio’s free offers
Recently, Jio announced that it will start charging for its mobile services from April 1. Last month, Jio said its existing subscribers and new customers who come on board by March 31 can continue to enjoy unlimited benefits of its Happy New Year Offer for one more year (till March 31, 2018) by paying a one-time fee of Rs. 99 and thereafter Rs. 303 a month. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio Prime: The Rs 303 and Rs 499 plans are great, but with a catch