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Trai had made it mandatory for telecom operators to disclose information on all such plans but Airtel and Vodafone had opposed the regulator's decision. (Photo: Mint)
Trai had made it mandatory for telecom operators to disclose information on all such plans but Airtel and Vodafone had opposed the regulator's decision. (Photo: Mint)

SC to pronounce order on Trai plea challenging specific offers of telcos

  • Segmented offers comprise promotions and discounts for customers who may to shift to other telco. To retain such users, telcos offer superior data speeds, preferential status, access to OTT platforms and airport lounge, among others

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday will pronounce its order on a plea by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) seeking details from Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd on segmented tariff or specific offers rolled oot for some of their customers.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian had reserved the order in the matter on 27 October, after having heard detailed arguments of the parties.

Trai had made it mandatory for telecom operators to disclose information on all such plans but Airtel and Vodafone had opposed the regulator's decision, seeking relief from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on the grounds that these offers were not tariff plans and, thus, did not need disclosures.

Rival Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and state-owned mobile operators have complied with Trai’s order. The regulator was approached by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio which had complaining about the offers being made by Vodafone and Airtel for a limited set of customers.

The TDSAT ruled in favour of Airtel and Vodafone, which argued that Trai’s order would violate commercial confidentiality and help rivals poach their subscribers. The appellate tribunal said Trai had no authority to call for such general information from operators.

Following this, Trai had moved the Supreme Court challenging the TDSAT order. The apex court had refused to stay the TDSAT verdict.

Trai has since modified its order to seek information on segmented offers for a limited period. Chief Justice Bobse observed that the TDSAT order on the issue was ambiguous.

Segmented offers are promotions and discounts made to customers showing inclination towards shifting to other telcos. To retain such users, telcos offer superior data speeds, preferential customer status, access to over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, use of airport lounges, handset deals and hotel bookings, among others.

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