Trai gives Airtel, Vodafone Idea time till Aug 10 on priority plan queries

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Trai has granted additional time to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to submit detailed responses on fresh set of questions on their premium plans, where queries range from what happens when a non-priority customer is surrounded by priority users during congestion, to limit of throughput configured for the two sets of subscribers, according to a source.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) source said that both the companies have been given time till August 10 to file their responses.

The regulator had sent nearly two dozen questions to Airtel and Vodafone Idea over the contentious premium plans on Friday evening (July 31), and had asked them to explain their stand on August 4, backed by data and presentations.

However, an extension has now been given as Vodafone Idea had requested for more time to submit its detailed response.

E-mails sent by PTI to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea did not elicit a response.

Trai had asked Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) to provide certain information related to the congestion in the network for each service area over last one month, including “whether any limit of maximum throughput has been configured for the RedX or non-RedX users of the network.”

The regulator has also asked if any lower limit on the throughput has been prescribed when network is congested, beyond which data connection is dropped or new requests to access the network are not entertained.

Trai has also asked VIL about the average throughput achieved during the month of June 2020 for RedX and non-RedX subscribers, along with specific information for Delhi and Maharashtra circles.

It has asked the two companies what exactly happens during congestion when a non-priority customer is surrounded by priority customers, and whether data packet is not dropped in such a case.

“As per the information available in TRAI as filed by you, no wireless plan are committing any differential broadband speed. It is seen that RedX plan is not only providing priority on network but also committing higher speed on the wireless network. Is it not a new type of service and therefore should have been informed separately so that different aspects could have been examined before such service is launched?,” the regulator asked Vodafone Idea.

A similar question has been put to Airtel with regard to its Platinum plan.

This is the second set of questions posed by Trai to the two companies on their contentious priority plans.

Last month, the two telcos had responded to Trai’s previous round of questioning where they vehemently defended their priority plans, and argued that the offers have neither degraded network experience of non-premium users, nor flouted any regulations.

They had also said the subscribers of the plans constitute only a small portion of the overall customer base.

In a letter to Trai earlier, Vodafone Idea had said the benefit featuring network priority “is fully compliant to all applicable tariff orders and regulations” and that the regulator “has prejudged and prematurely concluded poor network service”.

On July 17, the telecom tribunal had stayed Trai’s order on Vodafone Idea, which had asked the company to withhold its offering promising priority 4G network on RedX plan.

At the same time, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal had said it would be open for Trai to proceed with the inquiry and pass final orders in accordance with law at the earliest after ensuring that requirements of natural justice are satisfied.

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