Reliance Jio recently extended the Welcome Offer until 31st March 2017. The new extended offer called ‘Happy New Year Offer’ was announced by Reliance Jio on December 1st, 2016. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) then wrote to Reliance Jio on December 20 asking for an explanation as to why the Happy New Year Offer should not be seen as a “violation” of regulatory guidelines and also as to why the offer of free data should not be treated as “predatory”. TRAI, in its communication to Reliance Jio, asked the company to provide an explanation within five days. According to existing norms, promotional offers can only be limited to a period of 90 days.
Reliance Jio then wrote to TRAI seeking additional time up to December 29 to send in its response. Reliance Jio has now responded to TRAI by providing a detailed explanation as to how the new offer cannot be termed as the extension of the promotional offer. Reliance Jio has claimed that the new promotional offer is entirely different from the inaugural offer that it launched in September. Reliance Jio has defended its move by emphasizing on the fact that the new Happy New Year Offer is significantly different from the earlier Jio Welcome Offer. The main difference, the company explains, is that the old offer provided up to 4GB of free data per day while the new offer caps the daily usage limit to 1GB under Fair Usage Policy.
Reliance Jio further justified its move by explaining that the Welcome Offer did not have the option of renewal or payment after the limit of 4GB was exhausted. But in the new Happy New Year Offer, there is an option to recharge both data and the promised speed. Reliance Jio argues that mobile tariff plans have multiple components and altering even one component implies a departure from the existing tariff plan. Also, as of today, Reliance Jio constitutes only 6% of the installations in the country. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) norms specify 30% as the threshold to trigger ‘misuse of market dominance’ clause. So it looks like Reliance Jio has very well justified its move to TRAI and is probably safe now from legal hurdles.
TRAI has also asked Jio to give an estimated month-wise projection for the number of subscribers that Jio expects to add until March 31, 2017.