Telecom tribunal TDSAT on Thursday refused to stay billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio’s extended free data and voice promotional offer but drilled holes in regulator TRAI’s clean chit to such offers and sought re-examination of certain issues.
Many questions on the two offers “remain un-answered”, TDSAT said in an order pronounced on incumbent operators’ plea for an interim relief on TRAI holding that the first 90-day welcome offer from September 2016 and the subsequent promotional offer till March 31, 2017 for continued free voice and data were distinct.
It said Jio did not comply with the tariff reporting requirement with the welcome offer.
In absence of any stay, the extended promotion offer will expire on March 31 without an adverse implication for customers.
“We accordingly direct TRAI to re-examine the issues ... and take necessary action, if any. TRAI shall apprise the tribunal about the outcome/findings of the examination along with reasons thereof, and action taken, if any, within two week from today,” TDSAT said in the eight-page order.
The order further said, “in so far as issues related to predatory pricing, IUC compliance and non-discrimination are concerned, they will be subject to final adjudication”.
TDSAT said that after perusal of the documents filed and submissions made by all the parties concerned, it finds that many questions “remain un-answered” in respect of the two free offers - the Welcome Offer and the Happy New Year Offer.
“TRAI has stated in its letter dated January 31, 2017, that the Welcome Offer is a promotional offer. As per the filed document, it is a Plan Voucher. TRAI has stated in its affidavit dated February 16, 2017 that the ‘offers were/are a component of all post-paid and pre-paid tariff plans’. Both positions are non-consistent. TRAI is directed to examine this,” TDSAT said.
The tribunal further noted that as per the tariff order, service providers are obliged to report to TRAI any new tariff or any changes therein within seven working days from the tariff implementation date.
“Since change regarding limiting the offer to 90 days was requested after more than a month, RJIL (Reliance Jio) did not comply with the reporting requirement...Authority is directed to examine this issue,” it said.
Other issues that TRAI has been asked to examine are whether reducing the availability of the offer to December 3 from December 31, amounts to reduction in benefit; whether the tariff plan filed on September 1 can be considered or marketed as promotional offer since it is a ‘plan voucher’.