TDSAT Stays TRAI Suspension Of Vodafone Idea’s RedX Postpaid Plan
Vodafone Idea SIM card packets are arranged for a photograph at a store in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

TDSAT Stays TRAI Suspension Of Vodafone Idea’s RedX Postpaid Plan

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal has stayed the telecom regulator’s direction to put on hold Vodafone Idea Ltd.’s latest premium offering.

The tribunal, however, said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India can investigate Vodafone Idea’s RedX postpaid plan—which offers unlimited data and “priority 4G network” to subscribers—but a suspension isn’t warranted at this stage. The case will be heard next on Aug. 18.

“It’s found that the direction for suspension of the RedX Plan which, understandably, would apply only to the existing revised plan, lacks even prima facie reasons,” the TDSAT order by Chairman Shiva Kirti Singh said. “The only justification that suspension would facilitate detailed examination by TRAI is found to be devoid of any merits.”

The telecom regulator through a letter dated July 11 asked India’s third-largest mobile service provider to stop enrolling new consumers in RedX with immediate effect. TRAI said it’s investigating claims of offering higher internet access speeds to RedX subscribers and asked for a suspension until it examines the issue.

Vodafone India then approached the tribunal seeking a stay on the regulator’s order. The company said TRAI’s examination was based on a complaint by its larger rival, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which the regulator denied.

Investigation into the plan was initiated before a complaint was filed by Reliance Jio, the TRAI said in its submission to the tribunal.

Subsequently, Reliance Jio also approached the tribunal seeking to be heard in the case. The tribunal on Friday allowed Reliance Jio’s application and asked it to file its reply within two weeks.

Vodafone India said TRAI’s move violates principles of natural justice as it doesn’t factor in the adverse effect on its existing subscribers. TRAI said it has ensured that the subscribers are protected as it hasn’t stopped the company from offering the Red-X’s benefits to its existing subscribers.

The telecom regulator also said any claim to provide priority on network to one consumer segment implies a reduction in quality of service to others and that it seeks to protect the interest of consumers who have been assured the best services.

TRAI said it wants to investigate whether the offer by Vodafone Idea would result in any change in mobile data experience and is no marketing gimmick.

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