Reliance Jio’s free promotional offer in trouble?
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) reserved its order after hearing all the parties concerned including regulator TRAI, incumbant operators Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, and Reliance Jio.
In its interim appeal, Bharti Airtel had sought a stay on regulator TRAI’s approval to Reliance Jio to continue with the free promotional offer. It had also sought a direction to TRAI to produce all records related to the regulator’s decision.
The interim appeal also sought to restrain Reliance Jio from providing its consumers the zero tariff plan and promotional offers.
It may be recalled that Reliance Jio launched an inaugural free voice and data plan beginning September last year, and in December extended the freebies till March 31, 2017.
Following this, incumbent operators like Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular moved the telecom dispute tribunal against TRAI for allowing the new operator to continue free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days.
The operators charged the regulator of being a “mute spectator” to the alleged violations.
On January 31, 2017, TRAI had said that Reliance Jio’s free voice calling and data plan were not violation of the regulatory guidelines on promotional offers.
TRAI had said that its examination had revealed that the ‘Happy New Year Offer’ launched by Reliance Jio on December 4, 2016 is distinct from its earlier Jio Welcome Offer and could not be treated as an extension of the promotional offer as the benefits under both differed.
TRAI’s opinion on the matter came after TDSAT asked it to take a decision “within reasonable time” on Jio’s tariffs in the wake of petitions filed by the large operators.
Recently, Jio has announced that it will start charging for its mobile services from April 1, 2017.
Last month, Jio said that its existing subscribers and new customers who come on board by March 31, can continue to enjoy unlimited benefits of its Happy New Year Offer for one more year (till March 31, 2018) by paying one-time fee of Rs 99 and thereafter Rs 303 a month.