TRAI will bar telcos from offering differential tariffs to users

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will prohibit telecom firms from enticing consumers away from their competitors by offering them lower rates for mobile number portability (MNP).

According to the authority, such products are discriminatory and in violation of current pricing regulations and guidelines. According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), MNP-specific pricing orders are in violation of the Telecommunication Tariff Order (TTO) 1999 as well as other rules, instructions, orders, and other directives issued by the agency from time to time.

In its directive, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has instructed telecom companies to offer only those tariffs, through their channel partners, distributors, and third-party apps, that have been reported to the regulator, and to ensure that these are in compliance with all applicable regulations and directives, effective immediately.

Specifically, the regulator stated that “MNP-specific tariff offers are in violation of Clause 10 of TTO-1999,” which states that any “offering of differential tariff to subscribers porting from a network of another service provider is not a valid and reasonable classification because the motive is to induce churn from the competitors’ network, which is discriminatory.”

The regulator added that Following a thorough investigation by the TRAI, the decision was reached with the goal of ensuring transparency, uniformity, and protection for subscribers. The decision has now been implemented in full.

An official from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) told ET Telecom that the directive was issued as a result of many complaints filed by all three telcos against each other for launching discriminatory MNP-specific deals in an attempt to attract customers.

It was also highlighted by the TRAI, at its instruction, that several telecoms alleged that discriminatory MNP-specific pricing benefits may have been provided to customers by channel partners without their knowledge or permission. Additionally, the report stated that operators must understand that channel partner, distributors, retailers, and third-party applications are not licensed organizations and that it is their obligation to comply with regulatory rules and standards pertaining to tariff offers.

Moreover, the news comes at a time when Airtel and Jio are aggressively promoting their deals in order to acquire consumers, as ailing Vodafone Idea continues to lose customers. Vodafone Idea lost 12.3 million consumers during the second quarter of the year, resulting in a total user base of 255.4 million.

During this time period, the client bases of Jio and Airtel were significantly larger, with 441 million and 321.23 million customers, respectively.