Free Jio: TDSAT reserves order on appeal for stay

MUMBAI: Telecom tribunal TDSAT has reserved its decision on an interim appeal seeking a stay on Reliance Jio's free promotional offer. TDSAT reserved its order after hearing all the parties concerned including the incumbent operators Idea Cellular, Bharti Airtel, Jio and the regulator TRAI. Jio, however, maintained that it did not violate any tariff orders in giving out two promotional offers.

Separately, Vodafone India had moved the Delhi High Court blaming TRAI to be acting as a mute spectator to Jio’s violations of regulations and IUC norms.

Before TDSAT, Airtel had sought a stay on TRAI's sanction to Jio to continue with the free promotional offer. Airtel had also alleged that TRAI is “perpetuating illegality” by allowing the 4G entrant to game the IUC regime by allowing Jio to offer free data and voice services. Idea had subsequently moved the tribunal.

Both had also requested for a direction to TRAI to furnish records related to the authority's decision. The appeal had also appealed for restraining Jio from offering its consumers the zero tariff plan and other promotional offers.

Jio commercially launched on 5 September 2016 with inaugural free services, which it extended in December till 31 March, 2017.

The regulator had on 31 January, 2017, said that Jio’s free plans were not the violation of the regulatory guidelines on promotional offers. It added that its examination found that the 4G entrant’s ‘Happy New Year Offer‘ launched on 4 December, 2016, is different from the Welcome Offer, thereby it could not be treated as an extension of the promotional offer as the benefits were different.

Jio will now however start charging its customers for its mobile services from 1 April, 2017. The telco had also launched 10 Prime packs of users that join the network before 31 March, 2017, and had also launched a buy one get one free offer for Jio Prime users.

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