Jio upset over Vodafone Idea (Vi) new prepaid recharge plans, here’s why

Jio has written to TRAI saying the new Vodafone Idea prepaid tariff plan is creating a barrier for those wanting to port to a different network.

Highlights
  • According to Jio, Vi’s new prepaid tariff would create a barrier for subscribers wanting to port out.
  • Vodafone Idea’s new tariff plans for prepaid customers have moved the SMS benefits to Rs 179 from Rs 149 which would discourage subscribers from porting out.
  • TRAI may either consider making SMS free or remove the need for sending an SMS for the porting process.

The latest price hike of the prepaid plans from Jio, Airtel, and Vi has definitely come as a disappointment to the common man as they’re now expensive by up to 25 percent. Jio seems to be upset too, but for different reasons. Jio has written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) asking it to look into the Vodafone Idea’s new prepaid tariff plans. According to Jio, Vi’s new recharge plans would create a barrier for subscribers wanting to port out, two persons familiar with the matter said. In a letter sent to the telecom regulator last week, Jio said Vodafone Idea has moved SMS services to a higher tariff plan of Rs 179 from Rs 149 and this would discourage subscribers from porting out to other service providers, ET reports citing sources.

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Back in September this year, as many as 10.10 million subscribers submitted MNP requests with their respective telecom carriers, thereby increasing the cumulative porting requests to 638.25 million. Vodafone Idea’s prepaid plans mean a customer who wants to port out needs to subscribe to a higher recharge pack to be able to send an SMS, which is mandatory to process the request. Users recharging the lower-priced plan can’t port out and are forced to shift to a higher plan and once they do, Jio believes that they might not want to shift to a new network after paying a premium. Jio has since asked TRAI to address the situation. It may either consider making SMS free or remove the need for sending an SMS for the porting process, according to ET’s source.

While Jio is yet to respond to the letter, a person familiar with TRAI’s process said the regulator was examing the issue and hasn’t decided its mode of action. However, it will ensure consumers have the flexibility of choice. The Vodafone Idea’s Rs 179 offers unlimited calling, 2GB of data, and 300 SMS. The Rs 99 prepaid plan doesn’t come with any SMS benefits. Vi currently has 253 million users, after losing 18.8 million users in the last year. The network had 408 million at the time of the merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular in August 2018. 

A non-profit organisation, Telecom Watchdog, had also written to TRAI with a similar complaint. “We are highly surprised to note that such kind action by Vodafone Idea has gone unnoticed so far as TRAI has not initiated any action to protect the interest of consumers. In fact, the SMS services should be in the lowest tariff plan. We request for your urgent intervention to stop this abuse/malpractice against the consumers,” said the non-profit organisation’s letter to TRAI, dated November 25th.