TDSAT stays Trai's directions to Voda Idea, Airtel to stop priority service

Topics TDSAT | Reliance Jio | Vodafone Idea

Jio has called the premium data plan discriminatory, Vodafone says the complaint is unsubstantiated and vague
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Friday decided to stay the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai)'s decision to halt priority service tariff plans by Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel.

The tribunal's decision provides a temporary relief for Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL).

In its order on Friday, the tribunal said it would be open for Trai to proceed with the inquiry and pass final orders in accordance with law at the earliest after ensuring that requirements of natural justice are satisfied and VIL is given opportunity to explain any alleged contravention of extant directions of the authority.

"Hence, the interim direction in paragraph 2 of the impugned letter dated 11.07.2020 is stayed until further orders," the TDSAT said.

On Thursday, TDSAT had reserved its order on the plea against Trai's decision to halt these new tariff plans. Trai had called these plans discriminatory.

Trai can proceed with the inquiry and pass final orders in accordance with law at the earliest, said TDSAT.

Jio, on whose complaint Trai had restrained Vodafone Idea and Airtel from marketing their premium plans, filed an application with TDSAT.

In the tariff plan case, the bone of contention between the two telecom firms pertains to Vodafone’s RedX plan, launched last November.

Customers were offered unlimited local and STD calls, unlimited data, up to 50 per cent higher data speed, premier customer service and Netflix subscription. As of June, about 127,000 subscribers availed of the RedX plan.

While Jio has called the premium data plan discriminatory, Vodafone says the complaint is unsubstantiated and vague.

While seeking a stay on the Trai order, Vodafone Idea said the regulator acted in haste without giving it a hearing. The Trai order is arbitrary and illegal and amounts to pre-judging the issue, it said.

In its application to TDSAT, Jio said it would be directly affected by the outcome of Vodafone’s appeal. It further said that outcome would impact the manner in which it conducts its business as it would have a bearing on fair competition and would determine the tariff plans that the applicant as well as its competitors can validly offer.

In its appeal, Vodafone Idea has listed the chronology of events leading to the suspension of its RedX plan. On July 8, Jio complained to Trai about Vodafone's RedX scheme. On July 9, Trai informed Vodafone about the complaint and the next day sought details of the plan. On July 11, Trai asked the company to withhold the plan, it said.

Jio in its complaint to Trai said the premium data offers were fraught with issues and could be in non-compliance of regulatory oversight. Among other things, it said that no operator can give a guarantee to any customer for any minimum speed.

Vodafone Idea said Jio's allegations were aimed to disturb its smooth functioning.

While seeking a stay on the Trai order, Vodafone Idea said the regulator acted in haste without hearing its views. The Trai order is arbitrary and illegal and amounts to pre-judging the issue, it said.

The RedX scheme was launched in November 2019 and has been in operation for the past eight months and during this period Trai never raised an issue regarding the plan being non-compliant, Vodafone Idea said.


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