TDSAT Says Jio’s Welcome Offer Violated Tariff Reporting Rules; Directs Trai to Take Action Against Telco

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The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has reportedly asked the Trai to take action against Reliance Jio for not adhering to the seven-day limit of reporting "the Welcome Offer", which the telco introduced at the time of starting commercial operations, dated September 5, 2016. Under the plan, the Mukesh Ambani-led telo offered free voice, data and messages for three months.


According to a report by the Economic Times, the order, issued on Thursday, could lead to a levy of a penalty of up to Rs 2 lakh on Jio, which now has over 160 million 4G subscribers with an average revenue per user (ARPU) of over Rs 150 highest among telcos in India.

The telecom tribunal, however, said that Jio's other successive plans - the Welcome Offer and the Happy New Year Offer – didn’t violate any rules around predatory pricing.

The TDSAT also dismissed the pleas filed by Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, the report said. Both these telcos had moved the tribunal against the TRAI order that allowed Jio to provide free services beyond the stipulated 90-day period.

Upholding the regulator's order that had allowed Jio's free offers to continue beyond 90 days after its services were launched, The tribunal asked the Trai to work out guidelines that can be applied to check compliance with principles of non-predation.

The tribunal has made it mandatory for telcos to file for the requirement and get prior approval from the regulator before launching "all services free" offers till such guidelines are issued by the Trai.

"Trai will examine such submissions within one week and convey its approval or disapproval in writing with reasons," the order said.

The tribunal also directed Trai to issue clear guidelines, benchmarks or methodology for performing a self check for consistency with principles of Interconnect Usage Charge (IUC) compliance. "We direct Trai to issue suitable direction/order/ regulation regarding benchmark/guideline that can be applied for ascertaining consistency with the principles of non- predation," said the order.

In the current setup, telcos, under forbearance, are free to fix the rates and report plans to the regulator within seven working days of launch.

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