Vodafone Idea moves telecom tribunal over Trai’s objection on priority plan promising faster speeds

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Published: July 13, 2020 7:59 PM

Trai questioned the priority being given to high-paying customers in those specific plans. The regulator asked the operators how they are protecting the interest of other general subscribers.

On Saturday, Trai had asked Vodafone Idea as well as Bharti Airtel to put on hold specific plans that promised faster speeds to certain priority users (Image: Reuters)

Vodafone Idea on Monday approached the telecom tribunal TDSAT against the sectoral regulator Trai’s missive to put on hold its plan that promised faster speeds to certain priority users, according to sources. Sources privy to the development said that the telecom operator has filed a petition in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), challenging Trai’s move and has requested for an early hearing on the matter.

On Saturday, Trai had asked Vodafone Idea as well as Bharti Airtel to put on hold specific plans that promised faster speeds to certain priority users, as the regulator questioned the telcos on whether network preference to specific customers came at the cost of deterioration of services for other subscribers.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) also asked the two operators to withhold the specific plan in the interim period while the issue is being examined. The regulator had written to the two operators — Airtel and Vodafone Idea — over the weekend questioning them about their individual plans that promised faster speeds to certain priority users.

Trai questioned the priority being given to high-paying customers in those specific plans. The regulator asked the operators how they are protecting the interest of other general subscribers. An email query sent to Vodafone Idea on its appeal in the TDSAT did not elicit a response. Under Trai’s scanner is Vodafone Idea (VIL) postpaid plan, REDX, promising up to 50 per cent faster data speed, besides other benefits and privileges.

A VIL source, who did not wish to be named, had said on Sunday that the company was taken aback at Trai’s letter over the weekend asking it to block the plan without any opportunity to respond on an important matter such as tariff.

The company source had then said that the REDX plan was filed with Trai in November 2019 and further modifications to the plan were, once again, duly filed in the month of May 2020. The plan has been in the market for last eight months and customers are already on-boarded. The VIL source said that the company is of the view that there is no violation of tariff regulation on this plan.

The source had gone to the extent of saying that the company was surprised with the haste in which this action has been taken which can lead to inconvenience to customers. On Sunday, a Vodafone Idea spokesperson had said that Vodafone REDX plan offers a range of benefits including unlimited data, calls, premium content, international roaming pack etc. for our valued postpaid customers who want more”.

“VIL is committed to serve its customers with the best in class offerings and high speed 4G data across all markets. VIL’s fastest 4G speed in many markets including metros has been verified by global testing agencies such as Ookla and OpenSignal amongst others, the VIL spokesperson had said. It is learnt that Trai has given Airtel seven days to respond to its questions.

On July 6, Bharti Airtel had announced it will give preference to platinum mobile customers, who pay Rs 499 and above per month for post-paid connection, on its 4G network. The platinum customers will get better 4G speed on Bharti Airtel network compared to other customers.

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