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No Stay On Reliance Jio’s Free Offer; Regulator Asked To Re-Examine Issue

New Delhi: The telecom tribunal on Thursday did not stay Reliance Jio’s free promotional offer, but asked telecom regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) to “re-examine” issues relating to the approval granted to the operator to continue with the freebies.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal or TDSAT, in its order on Thursday, asked TRAI to apprise it of the “outcome and findings of the examination” within two weeks. TDSAT had last week reserved the order on an interim appeal seeking a stay on Reliance Jio’s free offer after hearing all the parties concerned, including TRAI, incumbent operators Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, and newcomer Jio.

In its interim appeal, Airtel had sought a stay on TRAI’s approval to Jio to continue with the free services. It had also sought a direction to the regulator to produce all the records related to its decision.

The appeal also sought to restrain Jio from providing its consumers the zero tariff plan and promotional plans.

Jio had launched the inaugural free voice and data plan in September last year, and in December, extended the freebies till March 31, 2017.

Following this, the existing players such as Airtel and Idea moved the telecom tribunal against TRAI for letting the new operator continue the free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days.

The operators criticised the regulator for being a “mute spectator” to the alleged violations.

On January 31, the telecom regulator had held that Jio’s free voice calling and data plan were not violation of the regulatory guidelines. TRAI had further said its examination had revealed that the ‘Happy New Year Offer’ launched by Jio on December 4, 2016 is distinct from its earlier ‘Jio Welcome Offer’ and could not be treated as an extension of the promotional offer as the benefits under both differed.

Recently, Jio announced that it will start charging for its mobile services from April 1.

Last month, Jio said its existing subscribers and new customers who come on board by March 31 can continue to enjoy unlimited benefits of its Happy New Year Offer for one more year (till March 31, 2018) by paying a one-time fee of Rs. 99 and thereafter Rs. 303 a month.

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