Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has asked Reliance Jio Info comm to explain why extension of its free data and voice offer should not be seen as violation of norms that limit promotional offers to 90 days.
“We’ve asked them how the plans are different. A letter to this effect was sent a week ago and a reply is expected any time,” said a senior official at Trai. “We’re examining the issue closely.”
Jio has five days to respond to the letter sent on December 20. The Mukesh Ambani-owned tel co has also been asked to clarify why its promotional scheme should not be treated as “predatory.” An email to Jio seeking response to the development did not elicit a response as of press time on Monday.
The Reliance company had announced free data and voice calls for existing and new customers, under its ‘Happy New Year offer,’ on December 1. It initially announced a ‘welcome’ offer giving free data and voice for three months from September, which was supposed to end on December 3.
The official said that upon initial examination, the new offer ‘prima facie’ appeared to be an extension of the old promotional offer — unlimited video calling, free voice calls, data and Jio apps, among others — with a small change in quantum of data offered.
In a December 7 communication to Trai, Jio had informed that another promotional offer would be available to new consumers from December 4, for three months, and consumers availing earlier promotional offers would would be migrated to the new offer as well.
Trai’s move to question Jio comes close on the heels of incumbent Bharti Airtel moving Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). In its petition, Bharti asked the court to direct Trai to ensure that Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond December 3.
Bharti alleged that Trai was being a “mute spectator” to alleged violations. According to Trai sources, Jio said the new offer was different from Welcome offer in terms of data usage and speed.