Airtel and Jio fight over transparency in tariffs at TRAI open house

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Incumbent telcos got into a fight with new entrant Reliance Jio over the matter of transparency of tariff plans at the open house discussion held by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular said that some offers, especially counter offers used to retain subscribers, should be kept confidential so that competitors can’t take advantage of the strategies. However, Jio was of the view that all plans should be made public on a common platform to maintain transparency.

Telcos also demanded that they be allowed to segregate between new and existing users while offering tariff plans, adding that retention offers, which are more of less in the form of discounts, were not arbitrary and are instead based on several parameters including average revenue per user and customer loyalty.

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TRAI would most likely issue an order or guidelines in the coming 30 days on these issues.

"When a customer wants to leave - going out of a continued relationship between customer and operator - this is the fundamental right of the operator to retain that customer, and it is not only specific to telecom industry... it is there for any industry where you can match the offer (from a rival)," said Ravi Gandhi, regulatory head of Bharti Airtel.

However, Anshuman Thakur, head of strategy and planning at Reliance Jio disagreed to Gandhi’s view.

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"Current measures for transparency are not adequate because the specification of transparency in the industry is not consistent, therefore we again urge that all plans that are being offered by telcos are published in a common platform and people can see the plans, and nothing beyond those plans is offered to anyone else," Thakur said.

"The customer should be able to choose what's best for him, because they're the ones paying. Only the authority can offer this," he added.

It’s just been a few days that TRAI barred carriers from offering different plans to same-category subscribers.

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As per Rajan Mathews, Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India, a distinction needs to be made between acquisition of a new customer and retention of an existing customer while making offers.

(Image source The Quint)
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