Idea joins Airtel in TDSAT plea against Jio's promo offer

Idea Cellular has now joined Bharti Airtel in approaching the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal against the order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India allowing Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio to continue its free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days.

The TDSAT has ordered Idea's petition asking for quashing of Reliance Jio's promotional offer to be listed and heard along with Airtel's petition on February 1, sources said.

Reliance Jio had first launched an inaugural free voice and data plan beginning 4 September and last month extended it till 31 March 2017, a move that was vehemently criticised by incumbent operators.

Trai on 20 October said that since Jio's offer of free services was only valid till 3 December, it is consistent with the direction for 90 days (the stipulated validity of promo offers).

"Today, Idea Counsel Soli Cooper highlighted the 20 October order of Trai and Trai's inaction since 3 December. Trai will file a response on condonation of delay application, while Reliance Jio has been allowed to file impleadment application," PTI quoted a source as saying.

When contacted, an Idea Cellular spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

The appeal against Reliance Jio by Idea comes within a month of a similar petition moved by Bharti Airtel on 23 December, which challenged Trai's permission to Jio to continue its promotional offer and even charged the regulator with being a "mute spectator" to the violations.

In its 25-page petition before the TDSAT, Airtel had asked the tribunal to direct Trai to ensure that Reliance Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond 3 December.

Hearing Airtel's petition earlier this month, TDSAT had asked sector regulator Trai to decide on Reliance Jio's free 4G service within a "reasonable time".

The tribunal's observation came after Trai sought more time to formulate its views on Reliance Jio's free voice and data offer.

In fact, Trai has sought the attorney general's opinion on Reliance Jio's free voice and data offering till March, which rivals like Airtel and Idea have dubbed as predatory.