Reliance Jio’s promotional free data and voice plans do not violate any regulations or appear to be discriminatory or predatory, India’s telecom regulator TRAI on Friday informed the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), as indicated by this Hindu report. TRAI said this is in response to the ongoing case with TDSAT, which sought the regulator’s stance on allegations that Jio’s promo offer violated certain guidelines regarding promo packs.
Rival operators Idea and Airtel earlier filed a case with TDSAT alleging that TRAI was “perpetuating illegality” by allowing Jio to “game” the interconnection regulation with its free calls and data offer. Idea termed TRAI as a “mute spectator” to Jio’s violation of the regulator’s own rule that a promo offer cannot be extended over a period of 90 days. Both operators said that under existing regulations Jio should have discontinued its promo offer on December 3rd, which equates to 90 days.
However, TRAI told the special tribunal today that Jio’s initial “Welcome Offer Pack” which expired on December is different from the currently active “Happy New Year offer” which has an FUP of 1GB per day. “These are two different promotional offers. One ended in December and the other is ending in March. So, there is no violation,” a TRAI official told The Hindu. Note that TRAI had earlier sought Attorney General’s view to examine whether Jio’s pack violated one of its own regulation.
Vodafone’s petition against Jio in Delhi HC
TRAI’s stance regarding Jio’s promo offer doesn’t necessarily mean that Jio is out of trouble as the TDSAT is yet to deliver its order. Apart from this, Vodafone India has another case with Delhi HC alleging that TRAI failed to keep a check on Jio and its free offers, which ‘blatantly violated’ existing tariff regulations. Vodafone, also included Jio as a party in the case and the bench is yet to hear statements from TRAI and both telcos this month.
Vodafone also has a second petition filed in December last year which challenged TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty for allegedly violating license norms by denying interconnection points to Jio. On the other hand, Jio had filed a complaint with the Competition Commission of India last November claiming that Airtel, Idea and Vodafone have formed a cartel to restrict its operations by denying interconnection points.