Reliance Jio will reportedly extend the period of free 4G services if its subscribers are unable to get adequate connectivity due to interconnection. In spite of facing tough competition from other telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, Reliance Jio might decide to extend its free data deal beyond December 2016. There have been earlier reports which suggest that with an aim to boost customer acquisition, Reliance Jio may go for this step which can cause even more problems for the other networks. Yet the question remains, whether the current regulatory body TRAI allow such aggressive customer acquisition.
According to reports, the unified licensing agreement has provisions for tariffs and registrations, yet nothing on free trial period. RIL in its earlier statement before launch in September had talked about keeping an open mind about extending the period of the free trial. In the statement, Reliance wrote, “Jio may extend the period of free services in case Jio subscribers are not able to get an adequate experience of seamless connectivity across network due to POI congestion and MNP restrictions and the quality of service parameters are not as per the benchmarks desired by RJIL management.”
It will be interesting to see what other network providers have to say about this decision by Reliance. A body called, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), representing Vodafone, Bharti Airtel, Idea and others, told the telecom department that what Reliance was doing is a ‘full-blown service’ which leads to ‘predatory pricing’ and also alleged that Jio has ‘choked’ the other networks. But even of the incumbents cry foul, the absence of a clear and well-written structure for regulation may only help Reliance’s cause.
(with agency inputs)