Both the companies had submitted replies but the regulator was not satisfied and in turn sought more technical details.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Monday sought three weeks to file its counter-affidavit regarding Vodafone Idea’s RedX plan with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
The regulator also informed the tribunal that it will complete its inquiry around the plan in the meantime.
The next date of hearing on the matter is on September 10.
TDSAT had stayed Trai’s interim direction to stop its RedX offer immediately allowing Vodafone Idea to on-board new customers for the plan. The tribunal, however, allowed Trai to complete its inquiry on the premium plan.
As part of its inquiry, the regulator had sent a list of 20-24 questions to Vodafone Idea as well as Bharti Airtel, seeking clarifications about their plans.
Both the companies had submitted replies but the regulator was not satisfied and in turn sought more technical details. After getting all the information from the telecom firms, Trai will form its view and decide if the plans need to be stopped or can continue. The viewpoint of Trai will also be presented to TDSAT.
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”.
A similar direction was also sent to Bharti Airtel to stop its premium plan for Platinum customers.
While Vodafone Idea’s RedX plan has been in the market since November 2019 with some modifications made in May 2020, Bharti Airtel launched a similar plan for platinum customers on July 6.
Both the companies have said their plans meet all the regulatory conditions. In its response to Trai, Vodafone Idea has said the RedX plan was fully compliant to all applicable tariff orders and regulations. The company said subscriber stickiness in the RedX plan was higher compared with other postpaid plans for the value and experience they get.
As per information submitted by Vodafone Idea, RedX plan has 1.27 lakh subscribers. The company has also raised a question as to why Trai didn’t question the plan earlier despite it being launched in November last year. “For the first time on July 9, 2020, we received your communication in this regard based on a complaint from RJIL (Reliance Jio),” the company said.
The 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.
Similarly, Bharti Airtel has also said its plan was in complete compliance to Trai’s rules. The telco said it has only promised to give priority network to premium customers but not made a promise to guarantee any minimum speed.
As per Airtel, its postpaid customers on `499 and above plans, designated as Platinum, would get several preferential benefits, including faster 4G speed as part of its Thanks programme. The exclusive benefits include a preferential service at call centres and retail stores, a customised user interface on the Thanks app and faster 4G speed by giving them preference on the network.