Acting on Reliance Jio’s recent complaint against Bharti Airtel for offering discriminatory tariff to individual customers within the same class, the TRAI on Thursday directed all Indian telecom operators to stop providing such tariffs to the subscribers of the same category. The regulator has also directed telecom service providers to report all plans to the sector watchdog within seven days of their launch.
“…in order to protect the interests of the consumers…hereby directs all the Access Service Providers to ensure that all the tariffs offered to the consumers shall be in accordance with the provisions of Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999 and shall not be discriminatory between the subscribers of the same class,” TRAI said in a direction to telcos.
The TRAI has also directed all service providers to ensure that every tariff that is offered to a customer is invariably reported to the authority as per reporting framework under the forbearance regime unless an express exemption has been provided in the Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999 (as amended from time to time).
The clause 10 of the Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999 provides that no service provider shall, in any manner, discriminate between subscribers of the same class and such classification of subscribers shall not be arbitrary. “Provided that different tariffs like ‘Vertical Price Squeeze’ shall be a case of the discriminatory tariff,” TRAI said.
The regulator said to have received a complaint that some telcos were offering tariffs without filing it with the regulator and “offering discriminatory tariff to individual customers within the same class”.
The Mukesh Ambani-led Jio had in April filed a complaint with TRAI against Airtel for allegedly violating rules by issuing misleading offers and arbitrarily discriminating among its own customers subscribing to the same plan. It had then demanded highest penalty on Airtel.
Jio had alleged that Airtel’s two plans of Airtel priced at Rs 293 and Rs 449, respectively are being marketed in a misleading manner.
Bharti Airtel had denied the allegations and said that Jio’s allegations are a continuation of their standard ploy of blaming others for all its problems, including network deficiencies.