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Jio HNY: TDSAT raps TRAI as contest deepens

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MUMBAI: Telecom tribunal TDSAT has ordered the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to take a stand on Reliance Jio’s free 4G offer in reasonable time. A tribunal bench, comprising A K Bhargava and B B Srivastava, heard arguments of both sides — TRAI and Airtel -- and posted the matter for 1 February, PTI reported.

Meanwhile, other telecom operators in the country are scrambling to catch up. 

The new TDSAT order came while hearing a petition filed by Bharti Airtel, against TRAI decision allowing Reliance Jio to continue with its promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days, alleging that the regulator acted as “a mute spectator” to violations. 

Reliance Jio earlier chose not to respond to queries regarding its reply to TRAI that was expected on 29 December in connection with questions raised against alleged violations in extending its free offer till 31 March 2017 much beyond its introductory offer. After two emailed queries and phone calls from indiantelevision.com, Jio chose not to respond.

Airtel had filed a petition before TDSAT accusing TRAI of being 'sleeping trustee' to the violations carried out by Jio. In the petition, Airtel had alleged that TRAI had “erroneously” concluded that since Jio’s promotional offer of free services was only valid till 3 December, it is consistent with the direction for 90 days.

Jio, in a meeting with TRAI, had reportedly said that the latest offer was different from the previous offer as, in the former, the company provided 4GB of free data per day, but in the latter case, it restricted the free internet up to 1GB under Fair Usage Policy. Jio also stressed the fact that in the new offer if the data limit was exhausted, then one had to buy recharge vouchers, which was not the case in the initial offer.

Meanwhile Airtel and Idea offered free data to woo 4G users eventually deepening the telecom price war.  Bharti said it would offer three gigabytes of free 4G data per month until the end of the year for customers who switch to some of its plans from other carriers and to existing customers who upgrade to 4G by 28 February. Idea Cellular is reportedly going to offer unlimited free data to topple Jio and Airtel's plans. Idea, which ranks third in Indian telecom ranking, will now come up with new 4G data packs with an extended validity of up to one and half years. BSNL has also started offering unlimited free calls for six months at Rs 144. Vodafone and BSNL too have come up with cheaper plans.

Also read:   TRAI violations query: Reliance Jio mum on 'response'

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