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Telecom minister Manoj Sinha. Photo: HT
Telecom minister Manoj Sinha. Photo: HT

Trai moves SC against TDSAT order on predatory pricing

The appeal is yet to be listed for hearing in the Supreme Court, telecom minister Manoj Sinha told the Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has approached the Supreme Court against an TDSAT order dismissing its predatory pricing tariff rule, the parliament was informed Wednesday. “Trai has filed an appeal before Hon’ble Supreme Court against the order of Hon’ble TDSAT dated 13th December, 2018. The appeal is yet to be listed," telecom minister Manoj Sinha said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

Under the predatory pricing tariff rule, Trai had barred telecom operator with over 30% market share, offering services at a price which is below the average cost of service to reduce competition or eliminate the competitors. The regulator has also said that telecom firms will have to provide services to all subscribers availing the same tariff plan in a non-discriminatory manner.

However, the same was dismissed by Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal(TDSAT) in an order dated 13 December 2018 citing lack of transparency in the guidelines over determining market share and rates of services.

In February 2018, Trai said it will impose financial disincentive of up to 50 lakh per circle on operators if their service rates are found to be predatory in nature. The amendment was issued after old telecom operators Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone and Idea alleged that Reliance Jio is offering services at predatory rates.

Sinha said that transparency in tariff is and has always been an issue of prime concern for the government and to protect the interests of the consumers of telecommunications services, the regulator has issued several tariff orders, directions and guidelines in order to ensure transparency in tariff offers from time-to-time.

“However, despite these measures to ensure transparency in tariff, Trai has been receiving complaints from consumers and consumer organisations highlighting, inter alia, lack of transparency in the tariff offer of telecom service providers," Sinha said.

Trai does not handle individual consumer complaints but the complaints received from consumers are forwarded to the concerned telecom operators for appropriate action.

Data shared by the telecom minister shows that the number of consumer complaint received by the regulator has increased in 2018.

Till 20 December 2018, Trai has received 1,316 complaint from consumers, while in 2017, the regulator had received 1,055 complaints.

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