The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been very active lately with its consultation papers to introduce new reforms and changes for the consumers. While a lot of these consultation papers have been aimed at the DTH industry, a consultation paper has made its way into the industry from Trai which concerns the telecom operators and it has to do with the rampant offerings from the telecom operators. This new consultation paper is titled ‘Transparency in Publishing of Tariff Offers’. As per the telecom regulator this new consultation paper is aimed at protecting consumer interest of the telecom subscribers. As per Trai, when it comes to the telecom industry, the consumer faces lack of information, misleading information or hard to find information on the tariffs and the offers which affects their ability to make informed choices. Hence, Trai has said that there is a need for transparent sharing of information and the complete info as well for the telecom operators.
Trai Focused on Protecting Consumer Privacy
In its new consultation paper, Trai has listed down a few points based on which are likely to be the pillars for consumer protection and transparent communication. The first point among these is the flexibility and packages. Trai has listed complete protection to consumers from adverse changes in tariffs for six months from the date of enrolment, straight tariff reductions to be extended to consumers without requiring any pre-condition of explicit positive action on the part of consumers and requirement of exercise of an option by consumers when such options lead to fastening any liability or adverse conditions etc.
There are also some stringent reporting requirements as well on the part of telecom operators, which require them to report to the Authority, any new tariff or any changes in tariff, within seven working days from the date of implementation. Further, the telecom operators have to ensure not to terminate any existing tariff plan without giving a notice of less than thirty days to the subscriber. There is also a rule for the telecom operators, in which they have to ensure that not more than 25 plans are on offer at any given time including prepaid and postpaid. Also the tariff order empowers Trai to review and modify a tariff for any telecommunication service.
Further to ensure consumer protection, the telecom operators are guided to make “a separate section dedicated to transparency and consumer protection and provisions requiring publication of tariffs and ensuring that there is no discrimination between subscribers of the same class and that classification of subscribers shall not be arbitrary.”
Telcos to Now Keep Clear Communication With Consumers On Offers
Also Trai in its consultation paper has noted somethings about the Tariff Order. For example, in case of a complaint which it receives for misleading information on behalf of the telecom operator, then it would have to pay the amount to the complainant which were paid by him, and the telco would also have to pay such amount as compensation to the consumer for any loss or injury suffered by the consumer.
Further talking about the scope of the new consultation paper, Trai said, “the scope of the present consultation paper is limited to review of transparency requirements in communication of tariff offers by the service providers to the subscribers. Accordingly, it aims to review the need, efficacy, changes required etc. in the extant Tariff Order, TCPR, and/or Directions with regard to transparency.”