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Share details of all segmented tariff offers, Trai tells telcos

Trai also said it wants telcos to share details of segmented offers from April 2019 onwards within 10 working days from the last day of the month.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 03, 2019, 11.49 PM IST|Original: Apr 03, 2019, 11.49 PM IST
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Telecom companies did not immediately indicate if they would comply with Trai’s directive or contest it in court.
KOLKATA: The telecom regulator has asked phone companies to share details of all segmented tariff offers issued between April 2018 and March 2019 on a monthly basis, a move which could raise the hackles of older telcos who have been opposing such a mandate.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Wednesday also said it wants telcos to share details of segmented offers from April 2019 onwards within 10 working days from the last day of the month.

The direction comes after the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) last December dismissed its regulation that required telcos to report segmented offers. Trai, though, has justified its latest direction, citing a section of TDSAT’s December 2018 verdict that allows it “to call for details of any segmented offer on which it may have received complaints” or to assess whether “such offers are truly non-discriminatory”.

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The sector regulator has, in fact, asked telcos to comply within 15 days of its direction. It has asked them to share information on the number of customers availing of segmented offers and also give a declaration that benefits of such offers have been made available to all existing customers in the segment, and that the principle of non-discrimination has been adhered to. The regulator has also asked telcos to share details such as terms & conditions, validity period and benefits of segmented offers.

Telecom companies did not immediately indicate if they would comply with Trai’s directive or contest it in court.

Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India, which represents telco biggies such as Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm, said operators would seek “legal advice to check whether Trai’s direction falls within the parameters of TDSAT’s ruling on segmented offers”.

“Our members are studying Trai’s direction, and they will subsequently discuss and directly engage with the regulator on the feasibility of the same,” Mathews told ET. At press time, Vodafone Idea, Airtel and Jio did not reply to ET’s queries.

In its December 13 verdict, the TDSAT has ruled that segmented offers and discounts “offered in the ordinary course of business to existing customers without any discrimination within the targeted segment do not amount to a tariff plan and need no reporting in the manner prescribed for regular tariff plans.”

The issue of segmented offers was a key element of the sector regulator’s predatory pricing regulation of February 2018 that was at the heart of a bitter feud between the older carriers, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea on one side and Trai and Jio on the other. This is since Trai’s regulation barred older telcos from offering pricing packs to select individuals to retain them without making these available to other customers, which meant they couldn’t fight poaching.

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