More reports on: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Telecom, Reliance Jio Infocomm

Trai seeking to sidestep plaint against Jio, Vodafone tells SC

09 May 2017

Vodafone India on Monday told the Delhi High Court that the consultation process by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to frame rules for network testing even before a full-fledged launch of services by a company was a "deliberate exercise" to defeat its plea against Reliance Jio Infocom.

Vodafone contended before Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that the consultation process initiated by Trai appeared to be to find answers to issues raised by it in its petition in the high court. Vodafone in its plea had alleged violation of tariff orders by Jio by offering free voice calls.

Trai, on the other hand, said that Vodafone should participate in the consultative process, for which the last date for seeking comments is 29 May and for counter-comments, 12 June.

The court said what Trai does is not binding on it and listed Vodafone's applications, challenging the consultation process and seeking an early hearing, for further consideration on 15 May when the main petition of the company is scheduled to be taken up.

In the consultation paper, the regulator has also sought views on a host of other issues including whether a telecom operator should be allowed to enrol subscribers as test users, restrictions on their numbers, period of use for trial service, criteria to differentiate test phase from commercial launch and the like.

Jio's free trials of 4G services stretched from 28 December 2015 to 4 September 2016. The company had over 15 lakh users on its network before the commercial launch on 5 September last year.

Vodafone in its petition has claimed that by providing the free voice calls and continuing to do so as a promotional offer beyond a period of 90 days, Jio was violating norms and Trai's tariff orders and regulations.

It said it was also aggrieved by Trai's stand of ''allowing the alleged violation to continue''.

Jio had earlier told the court that Trai has held its free offers to subscribers as perfectly legitimate.

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