The sector’s directive comes after the Supreme Court last month upheld Trai’s appeal against an almost two-year-old telecom tribunal order that had set aside a regulation requiring telcos to report all tariffs in the interests of transparency and non-discrimination. The nation’s top court, in fact, had on November 6 ordered Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) to disclose to Trai all segmented or “specific offers” made to their subscribers, delivering a jolt to the two companies who had maintained that submission of such details could end up violating commercial confidentiality and help rivals poach their customers.
“…in pursuance of the Supreme Court order, dated November 6, the Authority directs all telecom service providers to provide within 15 days, on a monthly basis for each licenced service area (LSA) the details of segmented offers in a specified format,” the Trai said in a direction to all telcos Friday.
Mandatory disclosures of segmented offers from December 2020 onwards, it said, would need to be made to the regulator “within 10 working days from the last day of the month”.
During recent court proceedings in the nation’s top court, Bharti Airtel and Vi had said that mandatory disclosure of segmented offer details could end up flouting commercial confidentiality and help rivals poach their customers. They had also said it would be unworkable for them to disclose details of innumerable segmented offers.
The Supreme Court, in its latest order, though had addressed this concern and directed Trai to keep the details of telco segmented offers confidential and ensure they are not disclosed to any competitors or any other person.
Back in December 2018, the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had set aside a rule in Trai’s predatory pricing regulation that required telcos to report all segmented offers. The tribunal’s verdict had then meant that Airtel and Vi could continue offering customised discounts to retain subscribers and wouldn’t be bound to report these offers to Trai.
The TDSAT, in its order, had said that segmented offers and discounts offered to existing customers without discrimination within a targeted segment didn’t amount to a tariff plan and need not be reported in the manner prescribed for regular tariff plans. Trai had, subsequently, challenged the tribunal’s order in Supreme Court.