In a letter dated July 8, Jio asked Trai Chairman R S Sharma to check if Vodafone Idea’s RedX and Bharti Airtel’s Platinum premium tariff plans are in compliance with India’s extant regulatory framework or if they violate consumer interest.
Jio has also sought the regulator’s views on whether VIL’s RedX and Airtel’s Platinum tariff offers are merely misleading claims being made by the two incumbents purely for the sake of marketing purpose. “Before offering any such plans ourselves in the market, we would like to seek the Authority’s views on whether the (these) tariff offerings of VIL and Airtel are in compliance with the extant regulatory framework,” Jio said in its letter to Sharma, a copy of which was seen by ET.
On July 11, Trai had ordered the blocking of VIL’s RedX and Airtel’s Platimum plans respectively to undertake a detailed examination of both tariff schemes, following which VIL had on Monday moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), unhappy with the hasty manner in which the regulator had barred its over eight-month old premium tariff plan. Airtel though told Trai it would comply with its directive and not enrol new customers for its Platinum plan until the authority had examined it thoroughly.
Subsequently, Jio has requested the telecom tribunal that it be made a party in the case. The TDSAT has denied VIL any interim relief so far, and will hear the matter on July 16. Jio in its application to the tribunal has reportedly said it would be impacted by the outcome of the case and so, wishes to be impleaded in the proceedings.
The Mukesh Ambani-led telco, in its letter, also told Sharma that the advent of VIL’s RedX and Airtel’s Platinum offers had prompted droves of Jio postpaid and enterprise customers to also enquire about similar priority access to Jio’s wireless network and at assured higher speeds.
“Jio has been a proponent of leveraging latest technology to offer better speeds and experience to all customers without discrimination, but it has never endeavoured to provide priority access, neither at (the) application end in compliance with Net Neutrality requirements, nor at the customer end, in view of non-discriminatory access, irrespective of ARPU,” Jio said in its letter to the Trai chairman.
The telecom market leader added that it believes “VIL’s RedX and Airtel’s Platinum offerings are fraught with various possible issues, concerns and could be in non-conformance with extant regulatory oversight”.
Further, Jio has told Sharma that “no operator on a wireless network can give a guarantee to any customer for a minimum speed as bandwidth is shared in a 4G scenario. Accordingly, Jio said any move on a telco’s part to offer priority access to one set of customers would undoubtedly deteriorate the quality of services available to another set of customers, making such an offering discriminatory for consumers.
Jio also added that any claims of faster speeds by VIL and Airtel are misleading as merely giving higher priority to some consumers cannot be translated to higher speed, especially as that hinges on external factors such as channel quality indicator (CQI), which keeps changing in a wireless network even at the same location.
Last week, Airtel had offered faster data speeds on priority to Platinum users, who would also enjoy preferential services at call centres and retail points. Vodafone Idea had introduced its RedX plan last November, offering up to 50% faster speeds and special services. Both offers are seen as efforts to widen the base of higher-paying customers to boost average revenue per user.