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Trai asks Jio to explain extension of promo offer: report

27 December 2016

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has asked Reliance Jio Infocomm to explain why extension of its free data and voice offer should not be seen as a violation of norms that limit promotional offers to 90 days, reports The Economic Times.

''We've asked them how the plans are different. A letter to this effect was sent a week ago and a reply is expected any time,'' a senior official at Trai told ET. ''We're examining the issue closely.''

Jio has five days to respond to the letter sent on 20 December. The Mukesh Ambani-owned telco has also been asked to clarify why its promotional scheme should not be treated as ''predatory''.

An email to Jio seeking response to the development did not elicit a response.

The Reliance company had announced free data and voice calls for existing and new customers, under its 'Happy New Year offer,' on 1 December. It initially announced a 'welcome' offer giving free data and voice for three months from September, which was supposed to end on 3 December.

The official said that upon initial examination, the new offer 'prima facie' appeared to be an extension of the old promotional offer - unlimited video calling, free voice calls, data and Jio apps, among others - with a small change in the quantum of data offered.

In a 7 December communication to Trai, Jio had informed it that another promotional offer would be available to new consumers from 4 December, for three months, and consumers availing earlier promotional offers would be migrated to the new offer.

Trai's move to question Jio comes close on the heels of incumbent Bharti Airtel moving the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). In its petition, Airtel asked the court to direct Trai to ensure that Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond 3 December. Bharti alleged that Trai was being a ''mute spectator'' to alleged violations.

According to Trai sources, Jio said the new offer was different from its welcome offer in terms of data usage and speed.

The old offer provided 4GB of free data a day, while the new one free data is only at 1GB a day, as per fair usage policy. Further, the new offer allows users to recharge data and speed, while the earlier offer did not allow renewal.

An estimated month-wise projection on subscriber additions that may happen till March 2017 have also been sought, sources added, saying Jio's base had risen to 63 million as on 18 December.

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