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Trai asks Jio, Airtel to clearly state terms of unlimited 5G data packs

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has asked Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel to clearly state the terms and conditions of their unlimited 5G data offerings to customers.

While giving a clean chit to both the operators on the predatory pricing complaint by Vodafone Idea, the regulator has concluded that the tariffs are not below costs as alleged by Vodafone Idea, officials familiar with the matter told ET. They added that Vodafone Idea itself has been offering unlimited 4G data.

Trai’s directive to Jio and Airtel means that both the players can continue to offer unlimited 5G data but would need to explain the terms and conditions in a more elaborate way.

Both the telcos have complied and updated their terms and conditions for the tariff plans. Airtel has updated its fair usage policy (FUP) for 5G unlimited data and has specified that commercial usage is considered where data usage is beyond 300 GB in 30 days.

“It is clarified and stated that these offers are only meant for personal and non-commercial use, and are not intended for any commercial use, or special or enterprise plans. Airtel reserves the right to end/suspend/modify the offer/services in specific cases of commercial use, or any fraudulent use,” Airtel’s terms and conditions said.

Similarly, Reliance Jio has tweaked its terms and conditions around its Jio True 5G unlimited offering. As per Jio, while there are no restrictions on consumption, actual download speeds experience by a user is dependent on multiple factors like device, radio propagation characteristics in various topologies, latency on popular websites, type of mobile applications and operating system installed on a handset, and number of users on a particular cell etc.

“All these factors affect the latency, throughput as well as overall user experience and consumption, and most of these issues are beyond the control of TSPs (telecom service providers) and may limit the data usages by a subscriber,” Jio said.

Currently, there are no rules that bar a telecom operator from offering unlimited plans, but the tariffs should not be below costs. The telcos also need to explain the terms and conditions to customers.

For instance, in case of unlimited data plans, the telcos need to inform customers if the FUP—or unlimited till a certain amount of data after which the speed slows down—is applicable.

Both Jio and Airtel have told the regulator that unlimited data does not mean infinity as its usage is limited by speed and network. The two argued that they were not offering anything for free as 5G was being given as part of 4G packs and were charged accordingly. In fact, the cost of providing 1GB of 5G data is much less than that of 4G.

The issue around predatory pricing gained prominence in 2016, when Airtel and Vodafone Idea accused Jio of predatory pricing after the new entrant announced promotional plans that gave voice and data for free for months at a stretch.

Jio had denied any wrongdoing. The anti-trust body also had then rejected allegations of the incumbent players.

Dec 05,2023

Source: Economic Times