Priority plan: Trai sends show-cause notice to Vodafone Idea

By: |
August 26, 2020 4:10 AM

Watchdog mentions 5 specific points regarding the plan and asks the firm to reply by Aug 31

But TDSAT, while staying the direction, had said the only justification that suspension would facilitate detailed examination by Trai was found to be devoid of any merits.But TDSAT, while staying the direction, had said the only justification that suspension would facilitate detailed examination by Trai was found to be devoid of any merits.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to Vodafone Idea for its priority plan RedX as the telco failed to clear the doubts raised by the regulator.

Trai has mentioned five specific points regarding the plan which violate norms and has asked the company to reply by August 31.

If the company fails to answer the specific queries, the plan will be stopped by the regulator.

Bharti Airtel has not been served with any notice as the company has already informed Trai about stopping its priority plan.

According to sources, Trai has questioned Vodafone Idea about five specific points. “First the company failed to establish its claims about higher speed to premium customers, secondly, the company was not able to justify that non-premium users were not impacted,” a source privy to the details said.

Apart from that, Trai was not satisfied with the firm’s reply on the implementation mechanism of the priority feature. Trai has asked about the QCI (quality of service class identifier) priority mechanism and if the feature has been used by any other operator across the world.

“The company failed to give details about any other operator in the world using the QCI feature to give priority. Also, as per the standards, priority through QCI is meant for disaster management but the company was using it for commercial means,” the source said.

The regulator also questioned why Vodafone Idea did not file the plan as a new service when it was first launched in November last year.

“The company filed it as a routine plan when in fact it was essentially a new service. It allowed the company to evade scrutiny,” the source added.

Earlier, while answering the questions raised by Trai, Vodafone Idea said its overall download speed has increased by 28% in 31 weeks since the launch of its RedX plan in November 2019.

Sharing data, the telco said its weekly download speeds (pan-India) stood at 3.97 Mbps, which increased to about 5.92 Mbps for RedX customers after the launch of the plan, while non-RedX users continued to witness the previous speed. But after a month of the launch, even non-RedX customers witnessed increased speed. After 31 weeks of the RedX plan, the weekly speeds for premium customers stood at about 8.46 Mbps and around 4.89 Mbps for other customers.

In a relief to Vodafone Idea, TDSAT had last month stayed Trai’s interim direction to stop its RedX offer immediately. Trai, in its directions dated July 11, had asked Vodafone Idea to “withhold, with immediate effect and until further orders, the Vodafone RedX offer to facilitate detailed examination”.

But TDSAT, while staying the direction, had said the only justification that suspension would facilitate detailed examination by Trai was found to be devoid of any merits. The tribunal also noted that Trai’s inquiry on the plans had commenced on the basis of a letter from Jio dated July 8, 2020.

The Vodafone Idea RedX plan offered preferential benefits, including superior data speeds, preferential customer service, subscription of Netflix and Amazon Prime, access to airport lounges and exclusive deals on handsets, hotel bookings etc. The RedX plan can be activated for Rs 1,099.

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