Trai seeks details of segmented offers from telcos

By: |
December 5, 2020 12:30 AM

The regulator has sought details from January 2020 to November 2020, while directing the firms that December 2020 onwards, details of such offers should be submitted within 10 working days from the last day of the month.

The order, however, said the information cannot be published or disclosed to competitors. This restraint does not apply to normal tariff packages, which are in the public domain.The DoT is yet to come out with any notification for the next round of auction in which airwaves worth Rs 5.22 lakh crore are to be sold.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has directed all telecom operators to submit details of the segmented tariffs offered by them to their customers, within 15 days. The regulator has sought details from January 2020 to November 2020, while directing the firms that December 2020 onwards, details of such offers should be submitted within 10 working days from the last day of the month.

The direction follows the November 6 verdict of the Supreme Court which said the regulator was well within its powers to ask for any information from telecom operators about their segmented offers (discounts which are not part of standard tariff package). The order, however, said the information cannot be published or disclosed to competitors. This restraint does not apply to normal tariff packages, which are in the public domain.

In the directions dated December 4, a copy of which has been seen by FE, the regulator has asked telecom operators “to provide, within fifteen days of the date of issue of this direction, on a monthly basis, for each LSA (licensed service area), the following details of segmented offer, for the period from January 2020 till November 2020…”

The regulator has sought details of rates and related terms and conditions, quantum of services, name of tariff plan, validity period of subscription, and benefits available to the subscribers in the tariff plan in which the segmented offer has been given. It has also asked for the “number of segmented offers to the existing subscribers under the respective tariff plan at the end of the month” and “the number of subscribers, at the end of each month, who have availed the segmented offer within each tariff plan”.

It has sought details of the declaration that the benefits of such segmented offers have been made available to all customers falling in the class, and the principle of non-discrimination has been strictly followed.

In December 2018, while setting aside Trai’s regulation prohibiting Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea from providing segmented offers, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had said that such offers have always been in force and could not be clubbed with regular tariff schemes, which need to be reported to the regulator. The TDSAT had said that segmented offers are not discriminatory as made out by Trai as they are offered to a class or segment of subscribers, over and above a tariff scheme. However, it had allowed Trai to ask operators to submit to it any segmented offers if it wanted to examine whether they were discriminatory or not, but the details had to be kept confidential.

The Trai had moved the Supreme Court against the TDSAT order, but the apex court had refused to stay the ruling. The regulator had then modified its order to seek information on segmented offers from the telcos for a limited period. The Trai’s plea was opposed by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea on the ground that it would violate commercial confidentiality and help rivals poach their subscribers.

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