Telecom Watchdog, a nonprofit, Thursday sought intervention from sector regulator to prevent Vodafone Idea (Vi) from moving SMS or short message service to a higher tariff bracket of Rs 179 which it said would discourage subscribers to port out to other service providers.
In a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman PD Vaghela, dated November 25, the organisation said, “our immediate concern is about their step in which they have moved SMS services to a higher tariff bracket i.e., Rs 179 package, minimum.”
The Delhi-based body added that for porting out, an SMS service is required, and if a consumer wants to port out, he or she must first pay at least Rs 179 to get the tariff plan with SMS services.
It has also expressed surprise over non-action from the sector regulator over the consumer-centric matter.
“We are highly surprised to note that such kind action by Vodafone Idea has gone unnoticed so far as Trai has not initiated any action to protect the interest of consumers. In fact, the SMS services should be in the lowest tariff plan. We request for your urgent intervention to stop this abuse/malpractice against the consumers,” the letter added.
This week, following Bharti Airtel’s revised prepaid tariff plans, Vodafone Idea too had raised its pricing in order to marginally increase the average revenue per user with a revision of a minimum pack of Rs 149 to Rs 179, offering unlimited calling, 300 SMS and 2GB data.
Mumbai-based telco, however, also offers Rs 99 plan for voice calls alone with a 28-day validity.
On Tuesday, the telco said that the new tariff plans would allow it to continue to improve India’s fastest mobile network, verified by Ookla, and added that it remains committed to provide its customers simple and convenient products.
But, the Telecom Watchdog’s secretary Vikram Mittal, in the letter said that it was a clever and anti-consumer move to destroy the competition.
“This is a clever step by Vodafone Idea so that a consumer cannot port out to avail efficient services. This is nothing but to stop the consumers from moving to other telcos for better services. Consumers are majorly affected by this forced detention by their incumbent operator (Vodafone Idea) in this manner,” it added.
MNP or mobile number portability requires subscribers to send an SMS to their service operator first and upon its approval, further process is initiated which may take 3 to 5 days.
In September this year, 10.10 million subscribers submitted their MNP requests with their respective telecom carriers. The cumulative MNP requests increased from 628.15 million at the end of August 2021 to 638.25 million at the end of September 2021, since its implementation, according to Trai data. Mac Pro Tricks