The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) yesterday ordered disruptive cellular newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) to withdraw its latest three-month ‘complimentary’ offer of unlimited data usage and free calls for users paying a minimum INR303 (USD4.67), as it transgressed regulations. As reported by HinduBusinessOnline, the TRAI’s chairman stated: ‘We examined [the promotion] and found that it was not in accordance with [the] regulatory framework, so we advised [Jio] to stop it.’ Jio said it accepted the watchdog’s decision and was ‘fully complying’ with the order to cease the ‘Summer Surprise’ promotion. Earlier, Jio had announced that it was extending its one-time INR99 payment membership programme ‘Jio Prime’ for 15 more days to 15 April (whereafter users pay INR303 every month until end-March 2018 for unlimited voice/data), but that in addition it would reward Prime signees with a bonus three months without billing (up to July 2017). Under the TRAI’s directive, it must now cancel both the three-month bonus offer (which appeared to break rules limiting ‘free’ promotions to a single month) and the 15-day Prime membership extension. The TRAI had previously found nothing wrong with Jio’s extended promotional offers of free data/voice that helped it amass 100 million users – 72 million of whom had opted for paid services by late March.
The Economic Times reports that the share prices of rival operators Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications rose this morning in response to the news of Jio’s setback.