Setback For Airtel, Vodafone – TRAI Upholds Jio’s Complaint Against Discriminatory Pricing For Same Set Of Users


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Last month, Reliance Jio, in strongly written words, had complained to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) against Airtel, Vodafone and Idea regarding discriminatory pricing plans for the same class of subscribers.

In a landmark judgement, TRAI has upheld the complaint and has ordered all telecom providers to immediately stop this practice.

This has been described as a big setback for Airtel and other telecom providers who have been resorting to alternate ways to retain their customers and stop them from porting to Jio.

What Has TRAI Ordered Regarding Jio’s Complaint?

Last month, Reliance Jio had complained that Airtel, along with Vodafone and Idea is offering super special plans to only those users, who are about to port out to Jio.

In a strongly worded 5-page letter, Jio had said, “At the outset, we submit that so far as these MNP offers are concerned, these are in gross violation of extant telecom laws including Telecom Tariff Order, 1999,”

In their recent order, TRAI has confirmed that Jio was indeed right, and other telecom operators are violating telecom rules by offering different, special plans to the same set of users, in order to stop them from porting out to Jio.

In their order, TRAI said,”.. in order to protect the interests of the consumers…hereby directs all the Access Service Providers to ensure that all the tariffs offered to the consumers shall be in accordance with the provisions of Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999 and shall not be discriminatory between the subscribers of the same class,”

Citing clause 10 of the Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999, TRAI has specifically stated that under no condition, any telecom provider can provide different plans to the same class of subscribers who are paying the same amount.

TRAI also said, “Provided that different tariffs like ‘Vertical Price Squeeze’ shall be a case of the discriminatory tariff..”

TRAI Must Be Informed About All Plans Within A Week

Besides, TRAI has also mandated that every telecom provider will be required to inform TRAI about their new plans, within a week of its launch.

After Jio introduced dirt cheap Internet and Calling plans, other telecom players have been launching and relaunching and then re-modifying the plans almost on a daily basis.

TRAI now wants to stop this practice.

Their order states: “The Authority while adopting the forbearance regime in tariff, has made it mandatory for all the service providers to file their tariffs with TRAI within seven working days from the date of implementation of the said tariff,”

Bad news continues for Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, as yesterday, TRAI had confirmed that penalty of Rs 3050 crore would be implemented on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea for blocking Jio calls.

Airtel has pleaded against this penalty of Rs 50 Cr per circle, but TRAI has refused to remove the fine. In their order, TRAI had said that Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had violated quality of service agreements by deliberately violating Jio calls with “ulterior motive to stifle competition.”

We will keep you updated as more details come in.

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