TRAI decision on priority plans within 2 weeks of telcos' reply: Report

Merely using the term 'better service' is not suffice, the source said.
TRAI expects to finalise its decision on priority plans of Vodafone Idea and Airtel within two weeks of getting detailed responses on its queries from the two telcos, according to a regulatory source.

The source said that while TRAI had "serious concerns" on multiple issues pertaining to the priority plans, it had granted additional time up to August 10 to the two telcos to respond to its fresh round of questioning, as the players themselves had sought more time to reply.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is probing whether assuring minimum, faster or average data speeds is technological feasible or not. And indeed, if it is, why should telecom operators offering priority/platinum plans not be able to quantify the same, and clear the air around treatment that will be meted out non-premium customers as well, the source privy to the ongoing enquiry said.

Telcos must clearly quantify the benefits being offered to consumers (of the priority plans) in return for what they are being charged. Subscription to a mobile plan is akin to a 'sale' where consumer is the purchaser of the service and hence the telcos "must quantify" exactly what services such users are going to get.

Merely using the term 'better service' is not suffice, the source said.
Asked about the timelines for TRAI to come to a conclusion on the ongoing issue, the source said that the two telcos themselves had asked for some more time earlier this month to answer TRAI's second round of queries, many of which were technical in nature and needed concrete data.

TRAI will finalise its decision on priority plan issue within two weeks of getting response from the telcos, the extended time for which is Monday (August 10), the source said.

Service quality must be specified for two sets of users now -- priority and general users, and that information too has not been given by the companies, so far, the source added.

Moreover, when the plans were filed, the operators should have drawn the regulator's attention to the fact that these represented differentiated offerings.

TRAI had recently granted additional time to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to submit detailed responses on fresh set of questions on premium plans, where queries range from what happens when a non-priority customer is surrounded by priority users during congestion, to limit of throughput configured for the two sets of network subscribers.

TRAI shot-off nearly two dozen additional questions to Airtel and Vodafone Idea over the contentious premium plans on July 31, and had asked them to explain their stand backed by data and presentation.

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