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TRAI asks telcos to file all segmented offers made during Jan-Nov in 15 days

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday directed all telcos to share within 15 days the details of their segmented offers made between January and November 2020, including specific offer names, rates, terms & conditions, quantum of services, validity spans and associated benefits.

Detailed disclosures of such segmented offers for the January-November 2020 period, it said, need to be made on a monthly basis for each service area.

The sector regulator’s directive comes after the Supreme Court last month upheld Trai’s appeal against an almost two-year-old telecom tribunal order that had set aside a regulation requiring telcos to report all tariffs in the interests of transparency and non-discrimination. On November 6, the nation’s top court had ordered Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) to disclose to Trai all segmented or “specific offers” made to their subscribers, delivering a jolt to the two companies who had maintained that submission of such details could end up flouting commercial confidentiality and help rivals poach their customers. Trai was directed to keep the details confidential.

“In pursuance of the Supreme Court order, dated November 6, the authority directs all telecom service providers to provide within 15 days, on a monthly basis for each licenced service area (LSA), the details of segmented offers for the January to November 2020 period, in the annexed format,” Trai said in a direction to all telcos Friday.

Under the prescribed format, telcos will also need to disclose the number of segmented offers to existing customers and indicate how many are active every month-end. Further, they need to cite the number of users who have availed of these offers within each plan. Trai has also demanded a declaration from telcos that the benefits of a segmented offer are available to all users within a particular targeted segment, and that the “principle of non-discrimination” has been strictly followed.

A senior Trai official told that the “objective behind seeking details of all telco segmented offers is to ensure transparency, since without it, non-discrimination between the same class of subscribers can’t be ensured”. He added that Trai, is bound by constitutional provisions, particularly, Article 14, which “disallows discrimination in any manner”.

Mandatory telco disclosures of such segmented offers from December 2020 onwards will need to be made to the regulator “within 10 working days” from the last day of the month.

Back in December 2018, the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had set aside a rule in Trai’s predatory pricing regulation that required telcos to report all segmented offers. The tribunal’s verdict had then meant that Airtel and Vi could continue offering customised discounts to retain subscribers and wouldn’t be bound to report these offers to Trai.
The TDSAT, in its order, had then said that segmented offers and discounts offered to existing customers without discrimination within a targeted segment didn’t amount to a tariff plan and need not be reported in the manner prescribed for regular tariff plans. Trai had, subsequently, challenged the tribunal’s order in Supreme Court. LookMyGadget

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