Reliance Jio followed the order issued by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to stop offering complimentary access to its services for 3 months at the price of just one month tariff. It clearly did not sit too well with thousands of Indian consumers, who decided to join a Change.org petition filed by a Hyderabad-based techie demanding a change.
Amit Bhawani filed a petition on Change.org, demanding affordable internet access for every Indian. The petitioner condemned TRAI's decision on Friday by calling it a "black day for Digital India." In a matter of few hours, the petition gained thousands of signatures and it currently stands short of less than 5,000 signatures from reaching a goal of 75,000.
Reliance Jio's Summer Surprise, while benefitting consumers, baffled the telecom industry and the incumbents. Jio has drastically changed the face of the Indian telecom market with its free offerings over a span of over seven months. After ending the freebies on March 31, 2017, it launched Jio Prime Membership programme and the first exclusive offer as Jio Summer Surprise to give 3 more months of free 4G internet, unlimited calls, SMS, roaming and access to MyJio apps by paying just one month tariff.
The offer came at a time when the Department of Telecommunication (DOT) warned a 30 percent sequential slump in license fees that the telecom operators will pay the government for the March quarter. Jio's data offer had also led to a steep plunge in government's revenue from license fees and spectrum usage charges.
According to COAI, certain risk factors associated with Jio's disruptive offers may have negative impact on banks and other financial institutions dealing with the telecom sector, who owes them nearly Rs. 4.60 lakh crore.
"The industry will continue to bleed under this pricing, and there is the risk of cascading impact on the banks, government (accruals from license fee and spectrum payments made by telcos), and equipment manufacturers," Rajan Mathews, the COAI director general, told PTI.
On the contrary, Bhawani blames TRAI's decision to be against consumers when it should be working as a pro-consumer body.
"Sir, TRAI, which is supposed to be a pro-consumer body disappointed me today; Instead of protecting the scheme that gave a chance to a common man to access Internet at a cost of less than Rs 5/GB, decided to shut the Jio Summer Surprise Offer and has set a precedence that will prevent the consumer from getting affordable data forever," reads the petition.
Jio's Welcome Offer and Happy New Year offer were strongly resisted by the incumbents, who had urged TRAI and DOT to look into the legality of such offers. Despite the resistance, Jio successfully completed two sessions of free services. But the latest order by TRAI was immediately executed and Jio doesn't seem to be making any counter move this time around.
Since TRAI and Jio have agreed on the same terms, there's little chance that the consumers can have their way. The online petition is a way to send a strong message to TRAI against its decision, but it remains to be seen how effective this turns out to be.
If you're thoughts align with the #InternetForAll petition filed by Bhawani, you can sign it online. If you think TRAI's decision is right and you'd rather pay for the services than get freebies, let us know in the comments below.