TDSAT Partially Stays TRAI’s Predatory Pricing Order
The telecom tribunal today stayed parts of the regulator’s February 2018 order on predatory pricing and said no penalty will be levied on incumbent operators.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, in an interim order, stayed the new definition of Significant Market Player until it decides on a challenge to the order. It is clear from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s order that norms of regulation “had been altered in a significant manner in respect of predatory pricing as well as in respect of reporting requirement”, the TDSAT bench comprising of Justices SK Singh, BB Srivastava and AK Bhargava said.
Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. had moved the TDSAT against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s Feb. 16 order on predatory pricing that tweaked the definition of significant market player and said that operators will have to provide services to all subscribers availing the same tariff plan in a non-discriminatory manner. In its order, TRAI also said it will impose financial disincentive of up to Rs 50 lakh per circle on operators if their service rates are found to be predatory in nature.
The old operators had flagged the revised definition of Significant Market Power that now excludes parameters like traffic volume and switching capacity, and had argued that such changes placed them at a disadvantage.
Under TRAI’s predatory pricing order, discounts, if any, given to individual customers have to be reported as separate tariff plans.
The TDSAT, in its interim order, said that it would not be necessary for operators to disclose the details of their customers or any business-sensitive information, and that they can withhold such information provided they offer a written explanation to TRAI.
"If the respondent [TRAI] feels that relevant and necessary information is being withheld without just and good reasons, the matter may be bought to the notice of the tribunal for appropriate directions," the order said.
(With PTI inputs)