Reliance Jio has taken a contradictory stand from Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, on the issue of international mobile roaming (IMR) tariffs.
While, Jio has told the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that carriers offering extremely divergent standard rates versus pack tariffs for IMR services must be pushed to rationalise this structure, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel rejected any such need. According to Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, this was in consumers’ interest.
However, all three telcos rejected the idea of any regulation on international tariffs. To this end, the telcosasked the authority not to intervene in the complex IMR tariff construct which involves bulk tariff negotiations with multiple foreign operators.
Earlier, the TRAIhad floated a consultation paper on IMR services to ask the carriers about the rationale behind this vast gap, among various other issues causing bill shocks to international roamers.
Vodafone Idea in its response to the paper had said that these charges have strong economic/commercial rationale to merit such a distinction as they are offered to suit the usage needs of different types of customers. In case of prepaid customers, out of actual roamers, 80 per cent are on standard rates and only 20 per cent are on international roaming (IR) packs.
Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel said that under its ‘Roam without fear’ feature wherein the telco bars data usage whenever a customer exceeds his daily pack limit to prevent accidental usage. Thus, rationalisation of standard rates doesn’t impact the customers as they are already protected by the telcos.
Further, Jio said that it keeps such service inactive for all users until requested by the user or selection of an IR pack whereas Vodafone Idea said it does so only for its postpaid users and no mandate is required for prepaid SIMs.
Furthermore, the telcos also told TRAI that they are already following some of its suggestions, such as automatically activating a daily IR pack when standard usage exceeds that limit, and informing customers on reaching 50 per cent, 80 per cent, 90 per cent and 100 per cent usage of their subscribed pack entitlements. These practices do not require any mandate by the authority.