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Vodafone writes to TRAI asking it to retract Jio’s summer offer: report

In a complaint letter written to telecom regulator TRAI, Vodafone said that Reliance Jio is “luring customers” by asking them to activate the recently launched Summer Surprise Offer, even though TRAI itself has asked Jio to retract the offer, reports PTI. TRAI’s intervention came after Jio unveiled a new complimentary pack that provided free usage for three months.

According to the report, Vodafone alleged that Jio is continuing to provide the complimentary offer, which was “held as not meeting regulatory norms”. “For past three days, it has been promoting and luring customers to quickly recharge to avail the benefits of a non-compliant offer and also asking its retailers to communicate the same,” Vodafone added in its letter. The telco also requested TRAI to issue directions, ordering Jio to immediately withdraw the offers and retract all free benefits starting from the date of the advisory.

In its earlier statement, Jio requested users to subscribe to the pack, before it could be retracted, although it maintained that it would “fully comply” with TRAI’s advice. In a written reply to MediaNama’s queries, A Reliance Jio spokesperson said:

“Please refer to our press release of 6th April 2017, wherein we made it clear that Jio Summer Surprise will be withdrawn as soon as it is operationally feasible, in compliance with the regulator’s advice. All the customers who have subscribed to Jio Summer Surprise offer prior to its discontinuation will remain eligible for the offer. We are pained to note such continued and deliberate attempts by competitors to create unnecessary confusion in the market.”

No clarity over TRAI’s advisory

It is important to note that TRAI did not issue an order, but just an “advisory” asking Jio to retract its free offers. The advisory notice/statement was not shared with the public, neither was uploaded on its website. The exact reason behind TRAI’s intervention is unknown and it is not clear whether Jio’s offer violated any regulation. Earlier, the regulator held that Jio’s offers were in compliance with regulations after rival telcos including Airtel and Idea filed a case against Jio. However, the court had asked TRAI to “re-examine” its stance.

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This isn’t the first time that TRAI’s functioning seems questionable. Even though a licensed company is allowed to offer VoIP in India, due to uncertainty over regulations, VoIP service provider Nanu had to shut down operations. At that time, Nanu told MediaNama that TRAI is yet to come out with regulations regarding network interconnection, even though it had put out several consultation papers on the issue. Without clarity over interconnection, Nanu was forced to shut shop.

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