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Reliance Jio, Indian telecom’s disruptive new entrant, has finally been forced by the industry regulator to halt a free service giveaway that was slammed by rivals as anticompetitive.
Jio launched public services in September with a three-month offer of free voice and data services, which it then extended to six months. Even after it started charging for services on April 1, it said that all customers who spent at least Rs303 ($5) before April 15 would enjoy free services for a further three months.
But on Thursday evening Jio said that it would abandon this “Summer Surprise” promotion, on instructions from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
“Jio is in the process of fully complying with the regulator’s advice, and will be withdrawing the 3 months complimentary benefits…as soon as operationally feasible, over the next few days,” the company said.
Competitors including market leader Bharti Airtel and second-place Vodafone had said the giveaway amounted to predatory behaviour by Jio’s parent, the oil products group Reliance Industries, which is the country’s second-most valuable listed company.