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Explained: Why TRAI has an issue with premium plans that offer priority

21st July, 2020 Editorial

Plans offered by Operators:

  • Vodafone and Idea is offering the RedX plan for Rs 1,099 a month under which among other benefits, it has claimed that these post-paid subscribers will get 50% faster data speeds.
  • Airtel has launched a Platinum category of customers comprising anyone subscribing to a post-paid mobile plan of over Rs 499 a month, under which faster 4G speeds are being offered.
  • Giving preference to high paying subscribers.

Challenge by TRAI:

  • Not possible to give preference to certain customers without deteriorating the network quality for the remaining customers.
  • How would they ensure that speeds are guaranteed to the customers of RedX and Platinum plans?

Operators Comment:

  • Deploy “advanced technologies” to give their premium customers preference on the network.

Challenges for regulators:

  1. Ensure fair competition: but, such plans are anti to the fair competition as it gives edge to certain company.
  2. Maintain customer interest: poor class will be severely hurt as their speeds might be disrupted. Claims of high speed are also misleading in nature.
  3. Maintain private participation: Given the poor balance sheet of most of the telecom companies, such plans are necessary to ensure that Indian telecom industry is not monopolised.
  4. Serve the national interest: Program of digital India can be hurt, as people of lower strata leave the digital platforms.
  5. Adhering to the basic principle of sector: Such practices affect net neutrality as they create artificial segment between groups who can get good internet vs. who can’t get good internet.

About TRAI:

  • Established by TRAI Act 1997.
  • An independent regulator for telecom sector
  • Appellate organisation: TDSAT
  • The primary objective of TDSAT's establishment was to release TRAI from adjudicatory and dispute settlement functions in order to strengthen the regulatory framework.


  • Promotion of Digital Addressable systems to improve the quality of service to the consumers.
  • Ensure technical compatibility and inter-connect between different service providers
  • Ensure compliance with terms of license
  • Facilitate competition and promote efficiency
  • Maintain quality of services
  • Protect consumers’ interest

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-why-telecom-regulator-has-an-issue-with-premium-plans-that-offer-priority-6511654/