Following a war between Reliance Jio and top telcos, Trai to review tariff orders

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Following a war between Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India over predatory pricing and promotional offers by the Mukesh Ambani-led telecom operator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has floated a 32-page consultation paper to review tariff orders within a bid to develop a new framework for the telecom sector.

With this new paper, the regulator aims to address certain ambiguities in rules around issues like predatory pricing and promotional offers. The regulator the move was necessitated by the shift in the Indian telecom market from voice to data.

The Trai has also sought views on matters such as non-discrimination and transparency in advertising tariffs. Non-discrimination necessarily means telcos should not discriminate between subscribers of the same class.

There are certain other terms like ‘transparency’ and ‘non-predation’ which require further elaboration in the context of a retail tariff, Trai said.

In totality, the Trai has posted eight questions for stakeholders as part of its consultation paper. It said that all comments have to come in by March 17 and the counter comments by March 24.

The regulator said, “Though in the last 17 years, Trai has carried out sixty-two amendments in the Principal TTO (Telecommunication Tariff Order) to keep up with the changed circumstances, it is felt that a comprehensive review of the TTO is required to address the changes in the sector adequately.”

The regulator now believes that there is a need to comprehensively review the potential anti-competitive practices that could harm the sector and its consumers; set out clearly defined standards of competitive conduct; and explore appropriate regulatory tools to address such concerns.

It added that the anti-competitive behavior in the context of tariff setting could be through predatory pricing by the dominant market player.

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