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Supreme Court orders Airtel, Vi to disclose ‘segmented’ tariffs to TRAI: Report

The Supreme Court has ordered Airtel and Vi (Vodafone Idea) to disclose “segmented” tariffs that are only offered to certain subscribers to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The Economic Times first reported the development. As of writing, the court’s judgement in the case is not available on its website, and will likely be uploaded on Saturday. Segmented tariffs are plans offered to a small subset of users, such as to people wishing to leave a network as retention sops. Airtel and Vi have for years fought the regulator’s attempts to get a clearer picture of the kinds of tariffs it offers to customers who are at risk of switching to a different provider.

Airtel and Vi have argued that revealing this information would harm their competitiveness and allow competitors (presumably Jio) to poach their subscribers. The Supreme Court, which had reserved its judgement in this case late October, has reportedly told the telcos to disclose the information in the interest of “transparency, non-discrimination and non-predation”. The telecom regulator has been ordered to take this information in confidence and not reveal it to any third party. Vi and Airtel had resisted providing TRAI this information even under assurances of confidentiality.

TRAI had released a regulation that required telcos to disclose these “segmented” tariffs publicly. This followed a prohibition of crafting tariffs that were targeted at certain user groups (such as those who might want to switch). Vi and Airtel both successfully appealed TRAI’s efforts, obtaining favourable rulings from the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appeals Tribunal and the Madras High Court.

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