The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has refuted reports suggesting that it is undertaking a special drive to investigate past tariff plans for predatory pricing. In a statement released on Friday, TRAI clarified that it only examines specific plans that are under scrutiny and probes tariffs based on complaints received regarding non-compliance or predatory behaviour, according to an ETTelecom report.
This clarification comes in response to allegations made by Vodafone Idea against Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio regarding their unlimited 5G data offers.
According to a recent media report, it was stated that TRAI is currently investigating previous tariff plans to examine allegations of predatory pricing made by Vodafone Idea against Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio in offering Unlimited 5G data.
TRAI's Stance on Probing Tariff Plans
According to the report, in a clarification, TRAI firmly stated that there is no ongoing special drive to probe all past tariff plans filed by telecom companies. The regulator emphasized that it only scrutinizes specific plans that are under examination or have been flagged through complaints.
TRAI reiterated that any tariff may be subjected to fresh examination upon receipt of a complaint regarding non-compliance or predatory pricing allegations by any stakeholder, including telecom service providers.
Action on Predatory Pricing Complaints
TRAI clarified that it is currently examining specific complaints related to alleged predatory behaviour by telecom service providers. Upon completion of the examination, appropriate action will be taken as per the regulatory provisions. Earlier, Vodafone Idea had lodged a complaint with TRAI against Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, accusing them of engaging in predatory pricing practices.
TRAI's Proposed Audit Regulations
In a separate clarification, TRAI addressed objections raised by telcos regarding the proposed licensed service area (LSA)-level audit requirements. The regulator stated that the proposed rules actually aim to reduce the burden on service providers by conducting audits on a yearly basis instead of quarterly.
TRAI emphasized that the focus will be on auditing the centralized system rather than duplicating audits for each LSA. This approach will help streamline the audit process, reduce efforts by 75 percent, and prevent the wastage of resources, according to the report.
Importance of Continued Audits
The regulatory authority has stated that the current audit methodology being used does not encompass all segments of pre-paid customers, who make up nearly 95 percent of the overall customer base.
"Though TRAI acknowledges that most of the plans offered are on unlimited basis, however, each plan has a fair usage policy (FUP) limit which determines the quality and quantity of usage of service by the consumers. To have a continued confidence of consumers towards service providers and the regulator, it is essential to continue the audit process," the report quoted TRAI.