Regulators

TRAI to examine whether 4G offer can 'Jio' till Mar '17

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MUMBAI: In his attempt to arduously chase the 100-million subscriber base, Reliance Jio CMD Mukesh Ambani announced extension of free domestic voice calls and data till 31 March, 2017, having crossed 50 million in 83 days. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), however, said it will examine Jio's latest offer providing free 4G services for all till 31 March.

Jio’s new offer, meanwhile, struck a blow at competing incumbent operators -- Idea Cellular, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone India. The latest offer hurt the rivals' share price. Airtel was down 1.66% at Rs 319.10 on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), and Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications, respectively, dropped around 6% and 5%. By contrast, RIL price was up 0.45%.

Ambani, on Thursday, announced the continuation of freebies currently being offered for fourth-generation (4G) long-term evolution (LTE) data and voice services till March next year. TRAI had earlier allowed Reliance Jio to provide free service till the end of this year.

About the validity of Jio's offer, TRAI chairman R S Sharma said that they would look into it. Every tariff that was filed before the authority was examined. TRAI would give its response at an appropriate time, Sharma added. TRAI had earlier allowed the new operator to provide free services till the end of 2016 for subscribers who joined till 3 December.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) meantime stated that it did not formally allow use of the prime minister Narendra Modi's picture in electronic and print advertisements of Reliance Jio.

Meanwhile, lower penetration of broadband (7 per cent) may slow down the ‘Digital India’ drive, according to TRAI. Sharma suggested that a potential solution would be to use connections for cable TV for broadband delivery. TRAI has already made the recommendation to the government, he added. Digital India would have to ride on that infrastructure, and if India did not have robust infrastructure, it was not going to achieve the objective of knowledge economy, Sharma added.

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