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HIGHLIGHTS

  • The regulator noted that such offerings are discriminatory and contravene current rules around pricing.
  • The move has come after TRAI considered all the aspects to ensure transparency, uniformity, and protection to subscribers and has gone into effect.
  • TRAI also noted that operators need to realise that channel partners, distributors, retailers and third-party apps are not licenced entities.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will restrict telecom companies from luring customers with differential tariffs through mobile number portability. The regulator noted that such offerings are discriminatory and contravene current rules around pricing. According to TRAI, MNP-specific tariff orders are violative of the Telecommunication Tariff Order (TTO) 1999 and other regulations, directions, orders etc issued by the authority from time to time.

TRAI in its directive has asked telecom companies to offer only those tariffs, via their channel partners, distributors and third-party apps, that have been reported to the regulator, and to ensure these are compliant with extant regulations and directions, with immediate effect.

The regulator said it’s the considered view of the Authority that “MNP-specific tariff offers are violative of Clause 10 of TTO-1999,” which states that any “offering of differential tariff to subscribers porting from a network of another service provider is not a valid and reasonable classification as the motive is to induce churn from the competitors’ network, which is discriminatory”.The move has come after TRAI considered all the aspects with an objective to ensure transparency, uniformity, and protection to subscribers and has gone into effect.

ET Telecom quoted a TRAI official who said that the direction took place because of numerous complaints lodged by all three telcos against each other for coming up with discriminatory MNP-specific offers to grab consumers.

TRAI, in its direction, also noted that some telcos claimed that the discriminatory MNP-specific tariff benefits may have been given to customers by their channel partners without their consent. It also noted that operators need to realise that channel partners, distributors, retailers and third-party apps are not licenced entities, and it remains the responsibility of telcos to adhere to the regulatory provisions and guidelines relating to tariff offerings.

The development comes at a time when Airtel and Jio are aggressively pushing their offers to attract customers as struggling Vodafone Idea continues to lose subscribers. During the June quarter, Vodafone Idea lost 12.3 million customers with its overall users base of 255.4 million. During this period, Jio and Airtel’s customer bases were higher at 441 million and 321.23 million users respectively.

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