Home / Industry / Telecom /  Jio seeks to be a party in Vodafone Idea vs Trai case

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd has asked to be made a party in the case involving the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) denial of faster internet speed to Vodafone Idea Ltd’s premium postpaid customers.

Jio’s application to the Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which was reviewed by Mint, contended that it will be impacted by the outcome of the case and, hence, wants to be impleaded in the proceedings.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Trai’s order barring both Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel from offering differentiated products in 4G postpaid plans was passed following a complaint filed by Jio on 8 July. Jio alleged that Vodafone Idea’s RedX plan was discriminatory and misleading.

The development adds a twist to the tussle between Jio on the one side and Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel on the other over market share in India. The two sides have fought a bitter tariff war since Jio’s launch in 2016.

Trai on Saturdayordered Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel to put on hold their premium plans offering faster data and priority services, citing violation of service norms and the possibility of lower data speeds for those who have not opted for such schemes. Vodafone Idea moved the tribunal on Monday challenging the order. The TDSAT on Tuesday refused to stay Trai’s order, denying interim relief to Vodafone Idea.

“TDSAT has asked Trai to file an affidavit in response to Vodafone Idea’s appeal. TDSAT has not admitted Jio’s application, but will take it up on 16 July," said a person aware of the matter on condition of anonymity.

In its complaint to Trai, Jio said the tariff plan would cause deterioration in the quality of service for one class of customers by providing priority to others and was premised on false and misleading claims being made to customers.

Reliance Jio did not respond to an emailed query until the time of publication.

Jio said Vodafone Idea’s claims to offering better data speeds and priority access “were erroneous" as an operator cannot guarantee minimum speed on a wireless network, and any method to provide priority access to some customers would “inevitably deteriorate the service quality available to other customers availing the same services".

In the application, Jio also said this could not be compared with wireline tariffs (fixed broadband) as users of such services “continue to get the promised speed, which is provided without adversely affecting any other customer".

Bharti Airtel on 6 July also announced faster 4G data speeds for all its platinum customers—postpaid users paying 499 or above. The Sunil Mittal-led telecom major said it has deployed advanced technologies for its ‘Priority 4G Network’ that will give its platinum subscribers preference. Vodafone Idea had introduced its RedX plan in November for postpaid customers with a launch price of 999, offering up to 50% faster speeds and special services. The price of the plan was hiked by 100 in May.

In a similar stand-off in the past, Jio locked horns with Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel over the abolition of interconnect usage charges, which telcos pay each other for calls to each other’s networks. In December, Trai deferred by a year a plan to abolish interconnect usage fees after initially agreeing to do so by 1 January 2020.

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