TRAI Puts Airtel, Vodafone Premium Offerings of Faster 4G on Hold
On 6 July, Airtel had announced it would offer faster 4G to platinum customers, who pay Rs 499 and above a month.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has directed Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to put on hold specific plans that promised faster speeds to certain priority users, reported news agency PTI.
The move comes amid questions about whether the network preference has come at the cost of deteriorated services to other subscribers.
TRAI has written to the two operators – Airtel and Vodafone Idea – questioning them about their individual plans that promised faster speeds to certain priority users. It has asked the operators how they are protecting the interest of other general subscribers, the report added.
The premium 4G plan by the two major telecom players has also raised questions about whether it violates net neutrality rules. However, telecom sector analysts say the rationale behind the plan is to widen the base of higher-paying users to boost average revenue per user (ARPU).
On 6 July, Airtel had announced that it would give preference to platinum mobile customers, who pay Rs 499 and above per month for post-paid connections, on its 4G network. The platinum customers will get better 4G speed on the Airtel network compared to other customers.
Vodafone Idea had launched a postpaid plan, REDX, promising up to 50 percent faster data speeds, besides other benefits and privileges.
TRAI has given Airtel seven days to respond to its questions, a person privy to the development said.
Commenting on the issue, an Airtel spokesperson told PTI, "We are passionate about delivering the best network and service experience to all our customers."
"This is why we have a relentless obsession to eliminate faults, and have been consistently recognised by international agencies as the best network in terms of speed, latency, and video experience,” the spokesperson added.
Speaking to Mint, a TRAI official said, “It (the plans) is in violation of quality of service norms. It shortchanges the existing customers and it is also not clear what the new customers are being offered as the parameters are not quantifiable.”
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