New Delhi: In a shot in the arm for Reliance Jio, telecom regulator TRAI has given a clean chit to the billionaire Mukesh Ambani-run firms free voice calling and data plan on its mobile services, saying the scheme is not a violation of the regulatory guidelines on promotional offers.
In a letter to incumbent operators Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, TRAI said Jio’s Happy New Year Offer has not been found to be violative of the principles of non-discrimination, inter-connect rule compliance and non-predation.
TRAI further 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 Welcome Offer and cannot be treated as an extension of earlier promotional offer as the benefits under both sets of promotional offers differ.
The Happy New Year Offer, TRAI said, gives an opening and closing date within the prescribed limit of 90 days and the eligibility conditions. In the offer, there is a different data limit and provision for getting a higher speed after prescribed payment once the data limit is exhausted.
India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel and its smaller rival Idea Cellular had moved telecom tribunal TDSAT against the regulator for allowing the Mukesh Ambani-led telecom venture to continue free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days.
Following this, TRAI asked Attorney General for views on Jio’s free voice and data offering till March 2017 that rivals had termed “predatory”.
AG recently communicated to TRAI that Reliance Jio’s tariff plans do not violate any existing regulation or order issued by the regulator, and therefore it should not intervene in the matter.
Sources said during the hearing at TDSAT, TRAI counsel submitted that the regulator has already taken a decision on the issue, after which TDSAT directed TRAI to file its decision. The next date of hearing on the matter is February 6.
On December 20, 2016, TRAI had asked Reliance Jio to explain as to “why the offer of free data under the promotional offer should not be treated as predatory” and also explain why its tariffs were not in violation of existing regulatory guidelines.
In its response, Jio had stated that its latest Happy New Year Offer is substantially different from the Jio Welcome Offer — which commenced on September 5 — as in the initial offer, it had provided 4 GB of free data per day, while in the new one, the same was capped at 1 GB under Fair Usage Policy.