The Indian telecom watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has barred telecom operators from offering discriminatory tariff plans to its subscribers. Acting on a complaint from Reliance Jio against Airtel, the telecom watchdog has issued new guidelines which essentially stops telecom operators from providing different tariff plans to subscribers of the same category. In addition to this, TRAI has ordered telecom operators to report all tariff plans to the regulator within seven days of their launch.
“To ensure that all the tariffs offered to the consumers shall be in accordance with the provisions of Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999 and shall not be discriminatory between the subscribers of the same class and to ensure that every tariff that is offered to a customer is invariably reported to the Authority as per reporting framework under the forbearance regime unless an express exemption has been provided in the Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999 (as amended from time to time),” said TRAI in its statement.
The new order was released after Reliance Jio raised a complaint to TRAI about other telcos offering discriminatory tariff plans to selected customers willing to port to other networks. In addition, Jio alleged that Airtel’s plans at Rs 293 and Rs 449 are marketed in a misleading manner. In Airtel’s ads, these two plans said to offer subscriber with around 1GB of 4G data benefits daily for 70 days. But there is a hidden criterion were, if you don’t own a 4G handset you will be provided with only 50MB of data for 70 days and post that, you will be charged as per your data tariff.
Also, few plans from Airtel and Idea Cellular like the Rs 348 plan which offered 500MB of data per day was not publicly announced. These plans were available for selected users through operator mobile apps. Jio raised concern with TRAI that users were offered this special plans when they try to opt-out of the network. Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone had responded saying that these allegations were false and their tariffs were all in compliance with TRAI’s guidelines.
According to TRAI, every tariff plan offered to the subscribers shall be in accordance with the provisions of Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999 and shall not be discriminatory between the subscribers of the same class.