Telecom regulator TRAI has asked Airtel and Vodafone Idea to submit all pending data post their priority plan presentation on August 10, as the regulator moves closer to finalising its views on the contentious issue, a source said. The regulator recently sent reminders to the two companies to submit the additional data to back their claims, the source told PTI.
Following this, Vodafone Idea has sent some information and sought time till August 20 to submit the rest, while Airtel's response is awaited. The source privy to the development said that the companies had made certain claims in the presentation before the regulator on August 10 and that TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) had asked all related data to be submitted.
A reminder was sent this week to the two companies to make all pending submissions, and record of discussion has also been circulated by TRAI. The regulator is expected to finalise its views in the next few days, the source added. TRAI has asked the two companies to give details on the source of data they presented, as also international reference or studies.
It has asked how the companies intend to accommodate disaster management and other emergency functions, especially keeping in mind needs of the Telecom Department and other agencies, given the backdrop of priority plans. Emails sent to Airtel and Vodafone Idea remained unanswered.
TRAI is currently probing Vodafone Idea's priority plan RedX and Bharti Airtel Platinum Offering to see if network preference to specific customers leads to deterioration of services for other non-premium subscribers or violates any norms. The regulator had earlier shot off questions to the two operators asking them to explain their position on the controversial issue and provide relevant data to substantiate their claims.
In its presentation to TRAI on August 10, Airtel defended its platinum offering saying it was launched with bonafide understanding that regulator does not have concerns over such an offering as no objection had been raised on a similar plan by Vodafone Idea for 8-9 months. Airtel had argued that operators often bundle their tariff plans and provide plan linked benefits with regard to content, devices, discounts for voice and data.
Vodafone Idea too had justified its pay-more-for-priority-experience plan offered to its subscribers and said that telecom operators faced a double whammy of having to make continuous investments in an era of call and data charges falling way below cost due to cut-throat competition.
Responding to questions raised by TRAI over the priority plans earlier, Vodafone Idea had argued that a new tariff plan is not a new service. Vodafone Idea has also countered TRAI's contention that the RedX plan that commits higher speeds should have been informed separately so different aspects could have been examined before such service was launched.