Reliance Jio’s Welcome Offer available for subscription till December 3

NEW DELHI: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries’ welcome offer of free voice calls and data on its recently-launched Jio mobile phone services will be available till December 31 only for those users who will buy subscription by December 3.

India’s richest man had stormed his way into the telecom sector last month announcing a Jio Welcome Offer beginning September 4.

The sector regulator Trai in an order said as per regulations the free services by Jio will be limited to 90 days, which ends on December 3.

“The revised offer of free services by Reliance Jio has been limited to 90 days i.e. December 3, 2016 and therefore is consistent with the guidelines on promotional offers,” TRAI said in an order.

When contacted, a Jio spokesperson said the Jio Welcome Offer or JWO “benefits of free unlimited Voice and data will be available to all subscribers up to December 31, 2016.”

But, the “JWO will be available to new consumers for subscription till December 3, 2016,” the spokesperson said.

He said consumers who have not subscribed services till December 3 will be able to subscribe to New offers as well as tariff plans that are available from Jio.

“Jio will continue offering consumer friendly plans to enhance Data and voice experience of all consumers,” he added.

Ambani while announcing the launch on September 1 had said that voice calling on Jio will be free for life and data would be charged at rock-bottom rates after the welcome offer ends.

After the TRAI order, the company did not indicate the tariffs to be charged to users taking services after December 4.

Incumbent operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone along with industry body COAI had approached the regulator against the new entrant’s scheme of offering free calls and unlimited data access to consumers till December 31, 2016.

They had also complained that given the free data offer, a “tsunami” of “asymmetric” traffic originating from Reliance Jio network was coming to their networks, leading to an increased number of call drops.

However, the regulator said the submissions made have been examined and “it is found that the tariff plans filed with TRAI cannot be considered as IUC non-complaint, predatory and discriminatory, at present”.

It added that the Authority would continue to keep a close watch on the tariffs being offered in the market by all players, including Reliance Jio.

LUXEMBOURG/BRUSSELS: Intel’s fight against a record 1.06 billion euro ($1.16 billion) EU antitrust fine received a boost on Thursday when a top Europe court adviser questioned whether the US chipmaker’s actions had really harmed competition.

The opinion from Advocate General Nils Wahl at the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) amounted to a rare setback for the European Commission, underlining the tough battle ahead as it takes on Apple, Qualcomm, Google and Amazon in various competition cases.

“Intel’s appeal against the imposition of a 1.06 billion euro fine for abuse of its dominant position should be upheld. The case should be referred back to the General Court for a fresh review,” Wahl said in a non-binding recommendation.

He said the General Court failed to establish that the rebates and payments offered by Intel were anti-competitive and that certain deals between the firm and Lenovo harmed European consumers. These were key elements of the Commission’s 2009 decision.

The General Court rejected Intel’s challenge two years ago, saying that the European Commission had not acted too harshly in handing down the record sanction amounting to 4.15% of Intel’s 2008 turnover against a possible maximum of 10%.

The ECJ, which usually follows the adviser’s opinion in the majority of cases, is expected to rule in the coming months. The Commission declined to comment.

Wahl’s opinion is a good sign for companies looking for guidance on what kind of rebates should be considered harmful, said Ian Giles, a partner at London-based Norton Rose Fulbright.

“The extent to which the advocate general disagrees with the Commission is significant. The advocate general’s opinion says – on the Intel facts – the Commission got it wrong,” he said.

“Assuming the court follows this opinion, this is a good outcome from the perspective of competition policy, and may lead to the Commission revising its approach in ongoing cases.”

US chipmaker Qualcomm is fighting EU charges of using anti-competitive methods, including giving rebates, to squeeze a rival. It will lay out its arguments at a hearing on November 10.

Intel’s fine remains the largest for a single company for an EU antitrust infringement.

The EU antitrust enforcer penalised Intel over what it called tactics aimed at stifling rival Advanced Micro Devices , including giving rebates to PC makers Dell, Hewlett-Packard Co, NEC and Lenovo for buying most of their computer chips from Intel.

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