Trai heeds Vi request, drops RedX inquiry after telco files revised offer

KOLKATA: The telecom regulator, at Vodafone Idea’s request, has abandoned its inquiry into the telco’s RedX premium tariff plan, after the latter recently filed a revised RedX offer and removed the contentious ‘Priority 4G network’ feature and the claim of faster data speeds.

“The Authority, considering Vodafone Idea’s request, has decided not to proceed with its investigation and any further inquiry into RedX in the backdrop of the discontinuance of (the telco’s earlier) claim of the Priority 4G network feature with faster speeds,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said in a letter, dated September 25, to Vi, a copy of which was seen by ET.

The decision, it said, came after Vi filed a revised RedX offer last week and urged the Trai to close its inquiry into RedX, claiming that it was hopeful that the telco had satisfactorily addressed the regulator’s concerns around the RedX postpaid tariff plan.

After a complaint by Reliance Jio on July 8, Trai, over the past two-and-a-half months, had been examining if Vi’s RedX plan degrades the quality of services for its other users on non-premium tariff offers.

Trai, in fact, had on July 11 suspended the original RedX plan, following which, Vi had moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which, in turn, had stayed the regulator’s order. The appellate tribunal though had said Trai could continue with its probe into RedX.

But with Trai now dropping its RedX investigation, Vi, is likely to shortly withdraw its appeal in TDSAT against Trai’s earlier order blocking the original RedX tariff plan.

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At press time, Vi did not reply to ET’s queries.

The RedX stakes were big for Vi as it has some 1,30,000 customers on the plan who would possibly have switched to rivals Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio if the premium offer was banned by Trai.

Back in November 2019, when RedX was originally launched, Vi had said customers opting for the premium plan would enjoy up to 50% faster data speeds than its other postpaid plans. Subsequently, RedX was tweaked in May 2020, offering the ‘Priority 4G network’ feature with faster data speeds.

Last month, Trai had asked Vi why it shouldn’t ban the RedX plan that appeared to make false claims about offering faster data speeds and misleading consumers.

Trai officials had told ET previously that Vi should clarify to RedX customers that the telco can’t guarantee faster data speeds if the plan was to continue. The regulator’s tough stand had stemmed from its strong reservations to the idea of telcos charging consumers a premium for faster data speeds and fragmenting the 4G information highway on a tariff-wise basis.



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