Good news..Jio may be free again!

New Delhi: This will surely bring smile on the faces of Jio users. That's because the free offer may well be making a comeback. What's fuelling the speculation is a step taken by the telecom tribunal TDSAT.

TDSAT has deferred to May 3 the hearing on a plea challenging the decision of regulator TRAI to allow free offers of Reliance Jio to continue beyond the stipulated 90 days.The petition moved by Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular against the TRAI order was listed for a hearing today, along with an interim application moved by the Sunil Bharti Mittal-led firm that objected to the alleged delays by Jio while withdrawing its three-month complimentary Summer Surprise Offer.

Both these matters will now come up for hearing on May 3 in the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

Jio had launched the inaugural free voice and data plan in September last year, and in December, extended the freebies till March 2017. Following this, the existing players Airtel and Idea moved the tribunal against the Trai order that allowed Mukesh Ambani-led telecom company to provide free services beyond the stipulated 90-day period. On January 31, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) held that Jios free voice calls and data plan were not in violation of the regulatory guidelines. TRAI had further said its examination had revealed that the Happy New Year Offer launched by Jio on December 4, 2016, is distinct from its earlier Jio Welcome Offer and could not be treated as an extension of the promotional offer as the benefits under both differed.

Last week, Airtel moved the TDSAT on alleged delay by Jio while withdrawing its Summer Surprise offer. This interim application by Airtel pertains to the Summer Surprise plan of Reliance Jio under which it was giving three-month complimentary offer of unlimited data usage and free calls on payment of a minimum Rs 303.

The offer was withdrawn after TRAI said that it was not in accordance with the regulatory framework.

Airtel also objected to the continuation of schemes benefits for those who had already subscribed to the said offer before it was withdrawn.