Indian regulator cracks down on 'discriminatory' offers for MNP

Indian regulator cracks down on 'discriminatory' offers for MNP

Indian telecom sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that special mobile number portability (MNP) specific tariffs are discriminatory and a violation of current rules.

TRAI directed telecom service providers (TSP)s to ensure that their channel partners or distributors only offered tariffs officially reported by the TSP to TRAI. It directed TSPs to ensure "with immediate effect" that only the tariffs reported to the regulator are offered through their channel partners, distributors, retailers, or third-party apps.

The direction came after TRAI received complaints by telecom service providers against each other, where allegations were leveled about MNP-specific tariff offerings being made by rival firms.

TRAI also asserted that the responsibility and accountability of ensuring compliance of its guidelines and provision will remain with the telecom service providers, where the operators' name or brand is used for marketing or selling products.

"The offering of differential tariff to the subscribers porting from the network of other service provider is not a valid and reasonable classification as the motive behind such classification is apparently to induce churn from the competitors' network and which is discriminatory and contravenes the provisions of clause 10 of Telecommunication Tariff Order (TTO), 1999," TRAI said citing its letter of January 2011 on the subject.

The TTO 1999 says that no TSP shall “in any manner, discriminate between subscribers of the same class and such classification of the subscribers shall not be arbitrary”.

TRAI noted that channel partners and distributors are “non-licensed entities” appointed by telecom operators for the purpose of offering services.

Recently India's top-two telcos, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have intensified their market aggression via higher channel spends to acquire struggling Vodafone Idea’s customers through the MNP route.

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