The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a new advisory that directs all telecom operators to stop providing discriminatory tariffs to consumers. This order comes after Reliance Jio s complaint to TRAI about other telcos offering customized plans to select customers willing to port to other networks. Last month saw a slew of offers launched by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular bundled with 4G data, unlimited calls at reasonable rates. But only select customers were eligible for these offers, and majority were unaware of them. Also Read - Airtel 5G service rollout: Airtel and Tata Group partner for Made in India 5G networkAlso Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAI
In a bid to counter Reliance Jio s tempting tariffs, telcos like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular rolled out plans offering 4G data and unlimited calls at similar rates to Jio s. Back in March, Airtel had launched two plans priced between Rs 145 and Rs 149, and another at Rs 349. These plans offered 14GB of 4G data and unlimited local/STD calls. This was followed by Idea Cellular s Rs 348 plan offering free voice calls, and 500MB data per day.
These plans were however not publicly announced, and most users were unaware of it. Only select users would be able to see the plan on the website, or on the app. Industry sources speculated that the reason behind select users receiving the offers were because of back-end algorithms monitoring a person s usage pattern. Idea Cellular responded to its offers saying that it was not an open plan, and was being offered strategically to users who do not consume much data. The real reason behind telcos offering such plans only to few consumers is however still not clear. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan: After Airtel, Idea Cellular to launch new Rs 297, Rs 447 plans
Reliance Jio was however adamant on this matter, and sent a letter of complaint to TRAI alleging that these telcos were playing unfair with their own consumers, thereby affecting the telecom network as a whole. Jio alleges that the select tariff plans were offered by telcos for customers wishing to opt out of their network. Both Airtel and Vodafone had responded saying that these allegations were false and their tariffs were all in compliance of TRAI s guidelines. ALSO READ: TRAI to look into Reliance Jio complaints about customized retention offers
TRAI s latest advisory may help keep competition at bay as telcos will now have to file their tariffs with the regulator within seven days of its implementation. TRAI also strictly advises that every class of consumer should receive the same tariffs and be informed about, and the regulator will always be made aware of any new tariff launched. ALSO READ: No discriminatory tariffs to subscribers in the same category: TRAI
Telcos like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Celullar have fixed plans over different categories for calls, SMS, and data. However, there are timely special offers launched in between. Reliance Jio, on the other hand, has fixed plans for all its consumers. Some benefits only differ for Jio s Prime and non-Prime members where the former gets better offers. The ongoing tussle between lone wolf Jio and other telcos doesn t seem to find an end, but TRAI s new advisory will hopefully create some balance, primarily for consumers who are at the receiving end for every ruckus they cause. ALSO READ: New Reliance Jio tariff plans against TRAI norms: Vodafone to High Court