INTRO: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered Airtel and Vi (Vodafone Idea) to reveal segmented tariff offers to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Segmented tariffs are offers given to a limited number of customers in an attempt to enhance user retention.
For the uninitiated, TRAI had issued an order in February 2018 to mandatorily report all special offers, which later got opposed by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). TRAI then took the matter to the apex court so that certain users don’t get preferential treatment as opposed to others paying more for the same benefits.
Segmented tariffs are currently not disclosed to TRAI and the latest move is to ‘ensure adherence to the regulatory principles of transparency, nondiscrimination, and non-predation’. TRAI further said that telecom service providers are under a ‘statutory obligation to offer tariffs in a transparent and nondiscriminatory manner and to report all tariffs to the authority.’
Airtel and Vi have long claimed that segmented tariffs are ‘confidentially designed trade practices’ and revealing them will allow competing operators to strategically gain their subscribers. To prevent this from happening, the court ordered TRAI to keep such details confidential. As a result, the ruling doesn’t stop companies from offering segmented offers going forward.
“The I.A. is allowed and a direction is issued to the respondents to disclose information/details sought by the applicant/appellant regarding segmented offers. But it is the duty and responsibility of TRAI to ensure that such information is kept confidential and is not made available to the competitors or to any other person,” said the court.