Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) has moved the regulator Trai claiming that Bharti Airtel is violating the regulatory norms by coming out with “misleading” tariff advertisements as well as by discriminating among subscribers. Jio complained that Bharti’s latest tariffs for 4G customers — Rs 293 and Rs 449 plans — offer free local and STD calls as well as 1 GB data per day for 70 days to only those who have a 4G handset and have opted for its 4G connection. The latest entrant in its complaint, filed with Trai late last month, claimed that the offers by Bharti are being marketed in a “misleading” manner and that they differentiate between subscribers.
Refuting Jio’s claims, Bharti said, “Bharti Airtel is in full compliance of all regulatory guidelines, including Tariff Orders. We categorically deny these allegations. Discounts are a standard lever in the arsenal of any business – be it e-commerce, telecom, insurance or aviation etc – and companies deploy these from time to time”.
It added that the allegations are a continuation of Jio’s standard ploy of blaming others for all its problems, including network deficiencies. “What’s even more ironic is that Jio itself offered free services for several months but is now pointing fingers at other operators, who are merely offering simple discounts to their own customers to retain them. In fact, it is Jio that that has been blatantly disregarding all guidelines and directions of the Trai,” Bharti said.
In its complaint, Jio has said, “The manner of the ads of these products is surely intended to lure all prospective new subscribers to believe that they will be provided 1 GB data per day for 70 days. However, the subscribers who do not satisfy Airtel’s dual criteria for this benefit will be provisioned only 50 MB data and post that they will be charged the exorbitant data tariff of Rs 4,000 per GB.”
Jio in its complaint to the regulator said, “As far as the ads issued by Airtel for these prepaid first recharge vouchers are concerned, the free free data and voice calls are being marketed in misleading manner in gross violation of extant telecommunication laws.” This violates Trai’s September 2015 direction, which relates to tariff plans with misleading titles.