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TRAI seeks views on tariffs’ debate

Consultation paper follows a decision by CEOs in January

February 17, 2017 11:35 pm | Updated 11:35 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Amid an ongoing war between incumbent telcos and new entrant Reliance Jio over its predatory pricing and promotional offers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued a consultation paper on Friday to undertake a review of the tariff assessment process.

The paper, among other issues, has sought views on which tariff offers should qualify as promotional offers, what should be the features of a promotional offer, and whether there is a need to restrict the number of promotional offers that can be introduced by a telecom service provider.

The consultation paper comes after the three incumbent operators – Airtel, Idea and Vodafone, moved TDSAT against TRAI alleging that the regulator failed to prohibit Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio from violating the tariff regulations by allowing it to continue with its free offers.

In response to complaints, TRAI had said that Reliance Jio’s promotional tariff plans comply with existing regulations and tariff orders, allowing promotional offer that provides free unlimited data and calling to users till March 31.

The consultation, the regulatory authority said, is in line with the decision taken in the meeting held with the CEOs of the telecom firms on January 6, 2017, “to discuss the annual calendar of activities of TRAI for the year 2017, which, included developing a new framework for tariffs in evolving telecommunication sector and on which there was a consensus.”

“The consultation paper deals with emergent issues … related to regulatory principles of tariff assessment e.g. transparency, promotional offers, disclosures and non-discrimination, adherence to the principle of non-predatory pricing, meaning of predatory pricing, the relevant market, assessment of dominant position etc,” the regulator said in a statement.

The consultation process aims to bring about greater clarity in interpretation of various regulatory principles set out in consonance with the best global practices, it added.

TRAI has sought views on whether the current measures are adequate to ensure transparency in the tariff offers made by operators and what additional measures can be prescribed by the TRAI in this regard.

Besides, it has also asked of the current definition relating to “non-discrimination” is adequate, how to assess significant market power in each relevant market and what methods should be applied by the regulator to assess predatory pricing by a service provider.The stakeholders need to submit comments by March 17, 2017 and counter-comments by March 24, 2017.

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