In a setback to Vodafone Idea, the Delhi high court has stayed an order from telecom tribunal TDSAT which prevented Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) from taking any coercive action against the company for not giving outgoing SMS facility on low-value tariff plans, thereby creating barriers for customers to send porting out SMS for mobile number portability (MNP).
The high court stay came after Trai challenged the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal’s December order, which prevented it to take any coercive action against Vodafone Idea. On December 7, Trai had directed all telecom operators to enable facility for sending SMS for porting out, irrespective of the value of the tariff vouchers. The direction came after a complaint by Reliance Jio, which had alleged that both Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel were creating barriers for subscribers who want to port out, by not offering outgoing SMS facility in lower-denomination pre-paid plans.
Bharti Airtel complied with Trai direction but Vodafone Idea challenged in TDSAT, where it got a favourable order. The issue of outgoing SMS gained prominence after the recent tariff hikes. All the three private mobile operators had increased pre-paid tariffs by 20% to 25%. After the hike, the minimum plan which offered outgoing SMS facility came for Rs 179 for Vodafone Idea whereas Bharti Airtel’s lowest denomination plan with outgoing SMS facility was for Rs 128. Reliance Jio offered SMS facility in all its plans.
While asking telcos to give outgoing SMS facility for MNP on all plans, Trai had said that it has received various complaints from subscribers for not being able to send SMS on short code 1900, specified for UPC generation for availing MNP facility despite having sufficient balance in their pre-paid accounts.
As per the MNP regulations, every mobile operator shall facilitate in its entire network, mobile number portability to all subscribers, both pre-paid and post-paid and shall, upon request, provide the same on a non-discriminatory basis.