Trai cracks down on discriminatory offers for MNP; says only tariffs filed with it can be offered

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 02-09-2021 21:13 IST | Created: 02-09-2021 21:13 IST
Trai cracks down on discriminatory offers for MNP; says only tariffs filed with it can be offered
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Regulator Trai on Thursday directed all telecom service providers to immediately ensure that only tariffs that are reported to it are offered through their channels, distributors or retailers, as it cracked the whip on discounts allegedly being doled out by some channel partners to lure customers from other networks.

Taking a tough stance on the issue, Trai firmly reminded the operators that mobile number portability (MNP)-specific tariff offerings are ''violative'' of Telecom Tariff Offer and other regulations that have been issued from time to time, in the context of non-discrimination in tariffs.

Issuing a direction to all players, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has affixed the responsibility of ensuring compliance of regulatory provisions and guidelines squarely with the operators, for such cases.

Trai directed all telecom service providers (TSPs) to ensure ''with immediate effect'' that only the tariffs reported to the regulator are offered through their channel partners, distributors, retailers or third-party apps.

It also asserted that the responsibility and accountability of ensuring compliance of Trai guidelines and provision will remain with the telecom service providers, where the operators' name or brand is used for marketing or selling products.

The direction came after Trai received complaints by telecom service providers against each other, where allegations were levelled about MNP-specific tariff offering being made by rival firms.

While the allegations of such ''discriminatory MNP specific tariff offers'' were denied by each of the operator, in some cases, it was stated by a few telcos that their channel partners may have given some specific benefits to the customers on their own without consent or authorisation from the players themselves.

Trai noted that channel partners and distributors are ''non-licensed entities'' appointed by telecom operators for the purpose of offering services. Trai also made it clear that ''it remains the responsibility of TSPs to adhere to the various regulatory provisions/guidelines in respect of tariff offerings issued from time to time''.

The regulator told the telcos that on the issue of giving exclusive tariffs to users joining networks of telecom operator through the process of MNP, it has clearly given its views in the past when all service providers were advised to withdraw such tariffs.

''The offering of differential tariff to the subscribers porting from the network of other service provider is not a valid and reasonable classification as the motive behind such classification is apparently to induce churn from the competitors' network and which is discriminatory and contravenes the provisions of clause 10 of TTO, 1999,'' Trai said citing its letter of January 2011 on the subject.

Monthly data released by Trai recently showed that troubled Vodafone Idea continued to lose mobile subscribers in June, ceding fresh ground to rivals Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.

Vodafone Idea lost about 42.8 lakh subscribers during June, as its user base shrunk to 27.3 crore, compounding the woes of the debt-laden telco which is struggling to stay afloat.

According to telecom subscription data for the month of June released by Trai, Reliance Jio cemented its lead, gaining 54.6 lakh users. Its mobile subscriber base swelled to 43.6 crore in June.

Bharti Airtel added 38.1 lakh wireless subscribers in June, pushing up its mobile user base to 35.2 crore.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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