Trai Asks Citizens to Exercise Caution while Joining Online Conference Through Audio Calls to Avoid Bill Shocks

Conferencing apps like Zoom provide users a dial-in number that enables participants to join the conference call by calling the specified number

By May 11th, 2020 AT 7:38 PM

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Monday in an advisory asked the citizens to exercise caution while joining online conferences through audio calls. In its advisory, Trai said that “few consumers” have disclosed to the authority that they received “bill shocks” while joining online conference platforms “inadvertently dialing international” numbers. Trai highlighted that several citizens have switched to online conferencing platforms due to extended COVID-19 lockdowns and it was crucial for them to ask the citizens to verify the applicable charges for such platforms. Sensor Tower, one of the leading providers of market intelligence and insights on global app economy, on Thursday said that the Zoom conferencing app was the most downloaded app worldwide in April 2020. The firm said that the country with the most installs of the app was India with 18.2% of its total downloads in April. In March, App Annie, a global provider of mobile market data said that the video conferencing app usage has surged due to COVID-19 lockdown.

Trai Asks Citizens to Verify Terms and Conditions Before Using Dial-in Services

Further, Trai said that the customer care numbers of certain providers are either premium numbers or international numbers which would mean that operators would charge higher rates or ISD tariffs on users.

“Any inadvertent lapse in this regard may result in significant bills causing bill shocks,” Trai said in its advisory. “Thus, all the members of public are advised to exercise full caution and make themselves aware of the details of terms and conditions of using the online conferencing services particularly nature of numbers to which voice calls have to be made for joining the online conference and/or contacting customer support and details of tariff applicable for each of such services.”

Zoom Records 131 Million Installs in April

Sensor Tower said that the Zoom Conference App with 131 million installs in April 2020 represented 60 times an increase from April 2019.

Additionally, Sensor Tower said that conferencing apps including Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are under Top 5 app downloads on the App Store.

Conferencing apps like Zoom provide users a dial-in number that enables participants to join the conference call by calling the specified number. However, certain apps require the hosts to purchase a “audio conferencing plan” for the specified dial-in numbers to be toll-free.

“Video conferencing is not limited to business use cases,” App Annie said in its March report. “Amidst coronavirus-induced lockdowns and home quarantines, people are turning to social networking video conferencing apps to stay connected to family and friends, while at a safe distance.”

Born in India, Yogesh loves to travel and has lived in multiple countries including New Zealand and Canada. His bylines can be found on various newspapers and blogs throughout the world, including Vancouver Sun, Surrey Now-Leader, Daily Hive , Investing News Network and Rach F1.

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DGupta
DGupta

Why can’t TRAI make it mandatory that for any OTT platform like Zoom or a conferencing service to be offered to users in India, there must be India support and dial-in numbers prominently dispalyed, as the default options.

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