Vodafone Proposal moves Telecom Dispute Tribunal to block premium plans against TRAI
Vodafone Idea has shifted Telecom Dispute Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to challenge an order passed by India's Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) to block the REDX premium plan provided by the telco to its priority users.
Vodafone is frustrated by the latest TRAI decision to withhold premium services. TRAI's change comes after some consumers who had already paid and signed up for the plans had launched the priority postpaid plans with the private telcos. The business is especially unhappy about the fact that the decision of the authority did not require Vodafone to comment on an significant issue such as tariff.
Vodafone officials indicated that Vodafone would be forced to suspend the services after TRAI 's order for customers who have enrolled the REDX program for more than three months.
TRAI has granted tariff protection to the premium subscriber which is only available under the current rules for 180 days from the day of the onboarding.
"We made it abundantly clear to VIL and Airtel that they will continue to provide services to their onboard customers for a minimum security duration of 180 days from the date of their onboarding, and therefore the telecommunications service providers will operate accordingly," a senior Trai official told ET.
It is not clear if Airtel moves TDSAT as well. However, the telco could be exploring legal options as per ET.
TRAI has blocked the RedX Premium plans for Airtel's Platinum and Vodafone Idea which offer faster data speeds and customer priority services. TRAI requested both telcos in separate letters to "withhold, with immediate effect, and before further orders"
The regulator board asked the two operators whether the network preference for other customers came at the expense of degrading the services. TRAI has written to both companies asking them to explain their priority plans which are intended to pay extra for such priority customers.
It has questioned if priority for such particular plans to highly paying customers comes at the expense of declining coverage for other subscribers. TRAI gave Airtel seven days in which to answer its questions.
The plans the telcos announced will extend above Rs 499 for priority customers. Vodafone Idea RedX program launched at Rs 999 a month in November 2019. The telco noticed the changes made in May, and reported them to TRAI. The RedX package gives preference to 4 G networks providing limitless access and higher download rates, along with other incentives such as a year's Netflix subscription.
In July, Airtel unveiled its Platinum program for its postpaid users willing to pay above Rs 499. Platinum customers will get priority 4 G networks that offer 4 G speeds faster.