Telecom tribunal TDSAT asked regulator TRAI to place all documents pertaining to Reliance Jio’s free offers and specify whether the tariffs were a regular plan, base plan or special tariff voucher. TDSAT is hearing an appeal by incumbent players Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular challenging TRAI’s decision to allow the new operator to continue free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days.
The two operators had also filed fresh plea against TRAI’s clean chit to Jio tariffs in an order dated January 31, 2017. During the hearing today, TDSAT asked the regulator to file all the documents pertaining to Reliance Jio’s two offers – Jio Welcome Offer and Happy New Year Offer – by February 23. The tribunal has fixed February 28 as the next date of hearing.
“We want to know what is this…it is a regular plan, base plan, special tariff voucher, top up or a combo voucher…,” Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) member A K Bhargava said instructing the regulator to clearly state the classification of the offers.
During the hearing today, Reliance Jio Counsel Ramji Srinivasan argued that the company’s two offers were “distinct”, and were in compliance with the requirements of promotional offer (2008 direction) and Telecom Tariff Order. Jio further contended that while it had duly informed subscribers about the shift to the new offer through website, email and SMS, consent of subscribers for such a shift is not required when benefits are being extended and there are “no added liability”.
In a recent appeal, Bharti Airtel termed TRAI’s January 31, 2017 order as “wholly illegal” and “palpably wrong”. The Sunil Mittal led firm accused the regulator of “wrongly” holding Jio’s promotional offer as compliant with the regulatory guidelines, distinct and hence not an extension of the previous offer. On January 31, 2017, TRAI had said that Reliance Jio’s free voice calling and data plan on its mobile services were not a violation of the regulatory guidelines on promotional offers. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio average download speed reduced by over 50% in January: TRAI
TRAI had said that its examination had revealed that Happy New Year Offer launched by Reliance Jio on December 4, 2016 is distinct from its earlier Jio Welcome Offer and could not be treated as an extension of earlier promotional offer as the benefits under both differed. TRAI’s opinion in the matter came after TDSAT asked it to take a decision “within reasonable time” on Jio’s tariffs in the wake of petitions filed by Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular. The operators had approached the telecom dispute tribunal against the regulator for allowing Reliance Jio to continue free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days.
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