A contrast in regulatory regimes: TRAI nixes Jio’s Summer Surprise offer while FCC chairman Pai gets ready to ditch net neutrality rules
Once upon a time, not too long ago, US and Indian net neutrality perspectives were so in step, they could have been doing the lambada. Just a couple of months into the new year and things couldn’t be any more different in terms of regulatory approaches.
As Reliance Jio’s free data bonanza came to an end at the start of April, the company launched its next pricing innovation – the Reliance Jio Summer Surprise Offer, under which customers who recharged their plans at a certain level or higher would get three months worth of free unlimited data, calls, SMS and premium app license.
But telecoms regulator TRAI threw the ice bucket on Jio’s Summer Surprise, determining that rolling out more freebies to customers was just not on:
On April 6, Jio informed its customers that TRAI has advised Jio to withdraw the three-month complimentary offer. Jio added that the offer will be withdrawn in the next few days, as soon as operationally feasible. Jio also added that users who subscribe before the offer ends will remain eligible.
TRAI directed Reliance Jio to roll back the complimentary offer in the “shortest possible time”. They clarified that customers who had already subscribed to the Jio Summer Surprise offer could avail the benefits until the end of June.
The Jio Summer Surprise Offer was available for subscription for five more days after the announcement. Rival cellco Bharti Airtel has objected to this delay in the withdrawal of the offer. They have also objected that users who have already subscribed will be getting the benefits, and have registered a complaint with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
The regulator’s curbs do not seem to have dampened Jio’s strategy of doling out freebies to customers. Within a couple of days of the withdrawal of Summer Surprise, Jio came up with ‘Dhan Dhana Dhan’, a new offer under which users can recharge with RC 309 and get 84 GB of 4G data with a validity of 84 days. Users who recharge with RC 509 get 168 GB.
The latest promotional offer has triggered a massive uproar from Airtel and Vodafone, who blasted latest scheme as a provocative disregard of the TRAI directive. An Airtel spokesperson said the latest scheme is essentially the old plan masquerading under a different name — old wine in new bottle. TRAI will undoubtedly nix this customer-friendly offer too.
While winter is coming to India telecoms, the Summer Surprise is in full swing in the US
In the US, things really couldn’t look any different. Reuters reports that Ajit Pai, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission, met with major telecommunications trade groups to discuss rolling back net neutrality laws. Pai reportedly wants to replace the current regulations with a system where service providers would voluntarily agree to open Internet principles.
Three sources said Pai plans to unveil his proposal to overturn the rules as early as late April and it could face an initial vote in May or June.
Pai predicted in December that net neutrality’s days were numbered, and reiterated that point at MWC17. He told Reuters in February he believes “in a free and open internet and the only question is what regulatory framework best secures that.”
This article was originally published on PricingDataPlans