Vodafone Moves Delhi High Court Against TRAI Network Consultation Process

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Telecom major Vodafone India told the Delhi High Court that TRAI’s consultation process to frame rules for network testing before a full-fledged launch by a company was a “deliberate exercise” to defeat its plea against Reliance Jio (RJio).

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Vodafone contended before Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that the consultation process initiated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) appeared to be to find answers to the issues raised by it in the petition in the high court.

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The telecom major in its plea had alleged violation of tariff orders by RJio by offering free voice calls.

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The TRAI, on the other hand, said that Vodafone should participate in the consultative process, for which the last date for seeking comments is May 29 and for counter-comments, it was June 12.

The court, meanwhile, said what the TRAI does is not binding on it and listed Vodafone’s applications, challenging the consultation process and seeking an early hearing, for further consideration on May 15 when the main petition of the company is scheduled to be taken up.

In the consultation paper, the regulator has also sought views on a host of other issues including whether a telecom operator should be allowed to enrol subscribers as test users, restrictions on their numbers, period of use for trial service, criteria to differentiate test phase from commercial launch and the like.

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Jio free trials of 4G services stretched from December 28, 2015, to September 4, 2016. The company had over 15 lakh users on its network before the commercial launch on September 5 last year.

Vodafone in its petition has claimed that by providing the free voice calls and continuing to do so as a promotional offer beyond a period of 90 days, RJio was violating norms and the TRAI’s tariff orders and regulations.

It said it was also aggrieved by the TRAI’s stand of allowing the alleged violation to continue. RJio had earlier told the court that the TRAI has held its free offers to subscribers as perfectly legitimate.