TRAI mulls show-cause notice against Vodafone Idea on priority plan issue: Source

Team Udayavani, Aug 21, 2020, 4:38 PM IST

New Delhi: TRAI is considering issuing a show cause notice to Vodafone Idea over the priority plan issue, as the telecom regulator is not satisfied with the response given by the company on the matter so far, according to a source.

Airtel — which has stopped onboarding new customers on its platinum offering after an earlier TRAI directive — may not be served a show cause notice.

A regulatory source said that Vodafone Idea has not been able to satisfactorily respond to many of the issues raised by TRAI, including two major concerns on how the company will ensure priority services and speeds to select customers who opt for the premium offering, and how the priority plan will not adversely impact services and experience of non-premium users.

The source said that the company, despite several rounds of questioning, has not been able to offer clear and direct answers to the issues raised by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The decision on issuing the show cause will be taken in a day or so, and Vodafone Idea will be given a few days to respond to the show cause notice and explain its position, the source added.

TRAI”s decision will be based on safeguarding interest of mobile consumers, the source added.

A mail sent to Vodafone Idea on the issue did not elicit a response.

TRAI is currently probing Vodafone Idea”s priority plan RedX and Bharti Airtel Platinum Offering to see if network preference to specific customers leads to deterioration of services for other non-premium subscribers or violates any norms.

The regulator had earlier shot off questions to the two operators asking them to explain their position on the controversial issue and provide relevant data to substantiate their claims.

In its presentation to TRAI on August 10, Airtel defended its platinum offering saying it was launched with bonafide understanding that regulator does not have concerns over such an offering as no objection had been raised on a similar plan by Vodafone Idea for 8-9 months.

Airtel had argued that operators often bundle their tariff plans and provide plan linked benefits with regard to content, devices, discounts for voice and data.

Responding to questions raised by telecom regulator TRAI over its priority plan earlier, Vodafone Idea had argued that a new tariff plan is not a new service. Vodafone Idea also countered TRAI”s contention that the RedX plan that commits higher speeds should have been informed separately so different aspects could have been examined before such service was launched.

Vodafone Idea had justified its pay-more-for-priority-experience plan offered to its subscribers, and said that telecom operators faced a double whammy of having to make continuous investments in an era of call and data charges falling way below cost due to cut-throat competition.

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