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VIL, Airtel strongly defend priority plans; say no service deterioration for other users

New Delhi: Telecom operators Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have vehemently defended their priority plans, which came under regulator TRAI's glare, and have argued that the offers have not deteriorated experience of other network users, nor violated any norms.

They said the subscribers of the plans constitute only a small portion of overall customer base.

In a letter to TRAI, Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) said the benefit featuring network priority "is fully compliant to all applicable tariff orders and regulations" and that "TRAI has prejudged and prematurely concluded poor network service".

VIL, which recently obtained a stay from the telecom tribunal and is free to onboard new customers to its priority plan for the time being (while Trai examines the issue), has asserted that disclosures made in terms/conditions of the offer "are adequate and not misleading by any means".

Last week, telecom tribunal TDSAT had stayed TRAI's recent order on Vodafone Idea, which had asked the company to withhold its offering promising priority 4G network on RedX plan.

At the same time, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had said it would be open for TRAI to proceed with the inquiry and pass final orders in accordance with law at the earliest after ensuring that requirements of natural justice are satisfied. It had also said VIL should be given opportunity to explain any alleged contravention of the regulator's directions.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had, earlier this month, had questioned the two telecom companies on whether network preference to specific customers came at the cost of deterioration of services for other non-premium subscribers.

VIL has argued that the offering in question - the RedX plan - was launched in November 2019 and has 1.27 lakh subscribers. Vodafone Idea said that during the eight months that its plan was operational, TRAI never raised any concern suggesting that the plan was, in any way, non-compliant with any provisions.

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