In a new development, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has made it compulsory for the telcos in India – Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and BSNL to feature at least one tariff plan which provides the validity period of 30 days. TRAI announced on Thursday, bringing a change to the telecommunications order of 1999, that every telecom operator is required to offer at least one plan voucher, one special tariff voucher and one combo voucher with 30 days validity.
The Need for Changes in the Tariff Plans
The regulatory body described this decision as consumer-friendly and said the implementation of this rule will allow subscribers of the telecom services to have more options in hand while choosing a tariff plan that will also offer appropriate validity. The clause also stated that every telecom operator is also required to offer at least one plan voucher, one special tariff voucher and one combo voucher which shall be renewable on the same date of every month.
TRAI had previously asked its stakeholders whether the intervention of the regulatory body in this matter is necessary or not. According to TRAI, it has received multiple complaints from the users of being felt cheated as they are made to do 13 recharges in a year. However, TRAI informed that opinions from stakeholders were completely divided as telecom operators were rooting for the continuation of the current validity offered with the tariff plans. While on the other hand, consumer advocacy groups, consultancy organizations and individual consumers said that there should be mandatory tariff plans with 30 days validity with the option of renewal on the same date of every month.
Talking about the telcos, they opposed the clause added by TRAI stating distinct reasons. Vodafone Idea or Vi stated that bringing any changes to the existing 28 days, 56 days or 84 days plans will create confusion among the customers and will require a lot of consumer awareness as well retail channel education on the operator’s end.
Reliance Jio talked in the favor of the 30 days validity tariff plans but opposed the idea of same date renewal of plans stating that it is essentially the structure for postpaid plans. Bharti Airtel on the other hand argued that a huge chunk of the user base belongs to low-income groups and plan their budgets on the weekly basis, thus bringing any changes to the 28 cycle will disrupt their management of expenses.