Trai gives relief to Vodafone Idea: To stop probe in RedX plan

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September 28, 2020 3:02 PM

Trai will not proceed with further inquiry into Vodafone Idea’s RedX plan as the company has already stopped offering “priority 4G network with faster data speeds”, to premium customers, which were subject matter of investigation.

Vodafone Idea had dragged Trai to Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) regarding its RedX plan.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will not proceed with further inquiry into Vodafone Idea’s RedX plan as the company has already stopped offering “priority 4G network with faster data speeds”, to premium customers, which were subject matter of investigation.

The regulator has also informed Vodafone Idea that there will be no further inquiry into the matter. The move by Trai follows a communication from Vodafone Idea on September 17, informing the regulator that earlier RedX plan has been discontinued and that a new tariff plan of RedX without the claim of priority 4G network feature has been filed. The company than requested Trai to grant closure of the pending enquiry as the concerns have been addressed.

“Considering the request of Vodafone Idea in the backdrop of discontinuance of the claim of priority 4G network…the Authority has decided not to proceed with the investigation/further inquiry,” Trai said in a letter to Vodafone Idea dated September 25, a copy of which has been seen by Financial Express.

The regulator had initiated a probe around the RedX plan for its claims to offer higher data speeds to customers through priority network. The regulator also wanted to know if speeds of other customers were impacted due to the priority network feature.

It must be mentioned that Bharti Airtel too had launched a similar offer for its platinum customers on Rs 499 and above plans. But the company decided to withdraw the plan after it was flagged by the regulator.

The RedX plan was originally launched in November last year, with claims of offering 50% faster data speeds to RedX customers. It was revised in May this year wherein the company claimed that “priority 4G network” would be offered to customers. Other benefits of the plan include preferential customer service, subscription of Netflix and Amazon Prime, access to airport lounges etc. The RedX plan can be activated for Rs 1,099.

During its probe, the regulator found out that the claims of Vodafone Idea for providing priority 4G network was not in compliance with the extant regulatory framework and therefore, a show-cause notice was issued to the company on August 25 as to why appropriate action should not be initiated against it for violating the regulatory framework. Apart from the issue of priority network, the notice also raised the issue of lack of transparency relating to communication of detailed terms and conditions to the consumers.

The company replied on September 8 in response to the show-cause notice.

Trai on July 11 had asked Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel to immediately stop their premium plans. As per Airtel, its postpaid customers on Rs 499 and above plans, designated as Platinum, would get several preferential benefits, including faster 4G speeds, as part of its Thanks programme. Similarly, the Vodafone Idea RedX plan offered preferential benefits, including superior data speeds to customers.

Vodafone Idea had dragged Trai to Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) regarding its RedX plan. The telco got an interim stay from the tribunal, which allowed it to get new customers for the premium plan but TDSAT also directed that Trai will continue with its probe.

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