Telecom regulator and controller, TRAI has asked Reliance Jio to clarify why extension of its free voice and data plan should not be seen as violation of existing regulations requiring promotional offers to be constrained to 90 days.
TRAI shot off the letter after the Mukesh Ambani-led company announced free data and voice calls for existing and new customers under the ‘Happy New Year offer‘, days before the 90-day inaugural welcome plan ended on December 3.
In the letter written on December 20, the regulator, which is in the process of analyzing the new plan by Reliance Jio, also asked why the offer of free data under the promotional scheme should not be treated as “predatory”.
When reached, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) did not offer any comments on the issue.
Sources with direct information of the development said the regulator in its letter had cited RJIL’s consumer base growing to 63 million as on December 18 to state that the company will become an important market player in the broadband space shortly, may be by December-end.
Expressing that the preliminary analysis relies on elements like average subscriber additions per day and free data being offered, TRAI is learnt to have asked RJIL to clarify with reference to “why the offer of free data under the promotional offer should not be treated as predatory.”
Another source said that in a meeting with TRAI, Reliance Jio has said that the recent Happy New Year offer is substantiatively different from the Jio Welcome Offer as in the initial offer it had provided 4GB of free data per day, and in the new offer the same was topped at 1GB under Fair Usage Policy.
Likewise, they contend, in the main offer there was no alternative of renewal or payment after the 4GB limit was exhausted, however in the new offer, one can recharge both data and the guaranteed speed.
In terms of market strength, Reliance Jio is 6% of the installations in the country while the Competition Commission of India (CCI) norms specify 30% threshold to trigger the ‘misuse of market dominance’ clause.
Sources stated, TRAI has additionally asked Jio to give an estimated month-wise projection of the number of subscribers that are required to be included till March 31, 2017.
Jio has been given five days to clear up on the issues raised by the controller.
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Sameeksha Bhardwaj, From ITvoir News Desk