The ongoing tussle between Reliance Jio and the incumbent operators (Airtel, Vodafone, Idea) is heating up: Airtel has filed a case with the TDSAT (a special court for telecom cases), alleging that Jio has delayed in revoking its 3-month complementary tariff pack, even after regulator TRAI asked it to pull it down, according to this PTI report.
TRAI had issued an ‘advisory’ to Jio asking it roll back it’s Summer Surprise offer that gave 3 months of data and calls as complimentary with the first recharge. The Mukesh Ambani-led telco, however, re-launched a new tariff pack named ‘Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan’, and frankly, the new plan does not appear to be significantly different from the previous one. The 3-month complimentary offer promised under the earlier ‘Summer Surprise’ recharge is still valid for those who already paid for it, Jio had clarified to MediaNama.
Airtel is now asking TDSAT to withdraw all active recharges under Summer Surprise offer. TDSAT will hear the case on April 20th 2017.
Apart from Airtel, Vodafone had also written to TRAI complaining that Jio is “luring customers” by asking them to activate Summer Surprise Offer, even though TRAI itself has asked Jio to retract the offer. Airtel had also put out a statement saying that Jio’s new pack violated “the TRAI directive and essentially continues with a similar plan now masquerading under a different name.”
TDSAT’s judgment on Jio’s promo packs still pending
Note that rival operators including Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are also involved in multiple legal cases against Jio. Airtel and Idea had earlier filed cases with the TDSAT against Jio in January claiming that TRAI was “perpetuating illegality” by allowing Jio to “game” the interconnection regulation with its free calls and data offer. TRAI informed TDSAT that Jio did not violate any regulations. The court then requested TRAI to re-examine its stance, and an order is still pending on the case.
Nikhil adds: Here’s the thing: Even if TDSAT now rules against Jio, it can’t force consumers to either pay more for packs they’ve already subscribed to or ask Jio to disconnect customers who have signed up because of these offerings. All the TDSAT will probably do is, if it rules against Jio, is fine the company. By then, it will be too little too late. What the TDSAT should have done, as courts often do, is issue an interim injunction, preventing Jio from offering these services once the case was filed, pending judgment.