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Indian regulator finally calls time on Jio’s endless freebies, for now

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The Indian telecoms regulator – TRAI – has finally grown a pair and pushed back on the latest extension of Jio’s great mobile give-away, sort of.

A few days ago we reported that Jio had extended the deadline of its perpetual promotion and whacked out another for good measure – the Jio Summer Surprise – the surprise apparently being that it was yet another move to buy customers from a company run by India’s richest person. Jio has been doing so since its launch last year and has accumulated millions of subscribers in less than a year as a consequence.

Jio’s competitors have understandably been calling for an end to this. On one hand, if a very rich person wants to but market share it could be argued they should be allowed to spend their money however they want. But extrapolate such activity indefinitely it would drive all competitors out of business, resulting in a monopoly which is bad for everyone except the monopolist.

“Today, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has advised Jio to withdraw the 3 months complimentary benefits of Jio Summer Surprise,” said a Jio announcement. “Jio accepts this decision. Jio is in the process of fully complying with the regulator’s advice, and will be withdrawing the 3 months complimentary benefits of Jio Summer Surprise as soon as operationally feasible, over the next few days. However, all customers who have subscribed to Jio Summer Surprise offer prior to its discontinuation will remain eligible for the offer.”

So while TRAI has indicated Jio is reaching the limit of how much consumer bribing will be tolerated, this was a pretty mild rebuke. All Jio has to do is can the giveaway but it can still keep all the benefits accrued so far. If a slap on the wrist is the worst Jio can expect for continuing to buy market share there is little to dissuade it from continuing to attempt to do so.

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