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Reliance Jio free offer violates Trai tariff orders, Vodafone tells HC

Vodafone claimed Trai failed to implement DoT circulars which state that all tariffs must be compliant of inter-connection usage charges, non-discriminatory, non-predatory


RIL in September 2016 stormed into the telecom business announcing free voice and data. Photo: Mint
RIL in September 2016 stormed into the telecom business announcing free voice and data. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Vodafone India Ltd on Monday moved the Delhi high court against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), accusing the regulator of failing to act against Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s free services.

According to Vodafone, Trai has previously ruled that mobile tariffs cannot be lower than interconnect user charges (IUC), and since Jio is offering services for free, it is in violation of rules.

IUC or termination charges are paid by the telco from which the call originates, to the telco which receives the call. For instance, when a Jio user calls a Vodafone user, Jio pays IUC to Vodafone. In this case, Vodafone’s contention is that Jio’s free services breach rules since Trai has set IUC as the floor for mobile tariffs.

The Vodafone petition also alleged that Trai had failed to stop R-Jio’s violation of tariff orders and acted in a “non-transparent manner.” The petition pointed out that Trai in 2002 had directed that “promotional tariffs cannot exceed 90 days upper limit”.

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R-Jio did not respond to an email query.

“The said promotional offer was and continues to be in blatant violation of cardinal regulatory principles as IUC charges being the floor for the retail tariffs,” Vodafone said in its petition.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, hearing the case, made R-Jio a party in the case.

This comes in the backdrop of the ongoing dispute between telcos like Bharti Airtel Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd which have approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against the Trai’s permission granted to Jio to extend promotional offers beyond 90 days. This will be heard on 1 February.

R-Jio’s free call offers were cleared by Trai in October 2016, where it said that “the tariff plans filed with Trai cannot be considered as IUC non-complaint, predatory and discriminatory, at present.”

The court will consider the case next on 1 February.

Upasana Jain contributed to this report.

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