Updated: April 7, 2017 4:30:15 pm
After an advisory from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in Reliance Jio’s free services, the telecom company said it would withdraw its complimentary offer through which it had extended its free offerings for three months for consumers subscribing to Jio Prime. This is the first time the regulator intervened to stop the company from offering free services.
“Today, Trai has advised Jio to withdraw the 3 months complimentary benefits of Jio Summer Surprise. Jio accepts this decision. Jio is in the process of fully complying with the regulator’s advice, and will be withdrawing the 3 months complimentary benefits of Jio Summer Surprise as soon as operationally feasible, over the next few days,” the mobile operator said on Thursday, adding that all customers who have subscribed to the offer prior to its discontinuation would remain eligible for the offer.
The company had announced the Jio Prime service, as per which subscribers could pay an annual charge of Rs 99, and monthly recharges of Rs 303 till March 31 to avail unlimited data and voice services beginning April 1. Later the company extended the March 31 deadline to April 15, and also said that those paying Rs 303 before April 15 would get free services for the first three months of the Prime subscription period.
Under forbearance, operators can announce tariffs without any prior approval from the regulator but have to file their tariff plans within seven days of the announcement. The move by Trai asking Jio to stop its extended free service comes at a time when the former has been under fire by incumbent operators for having allowed the latter to continue with its promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90-day period. The first offer was from September till December 2016, the second from January till March and the third was commencing from April. Telecom Commission had also raised eyebrows at Trai’s stance since it had led to a decline in government’s revenues from licence fee and spectrum usage charge.
Incumbent operators like Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have already challenged Trai’s lenient approach towards allowing Jio with its extended promotional offer in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, where the matter is still sub judice. However, TDSAT has asked several inconvenient questions to Trai with regard to its handling of the promotional offer and asked it to review its stance and revert to it.
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