The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) says the sector regulator Trai should intervene only with the minimum type of things unless there's a major breakdown in the telecom industry. Last month, Trai floated a new consultation paper for setting floor pricing in the industry. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) always said that it doesn't want to intervene in the tariff segment and always let telcos decide their own tariffs. Ever since the AGR setback, the future of Vodafone Idea in the country has been under the radar and the telco even approached the government to provide some relief. As part of the same discussions, Trai came up with a consultation paper for having minimum prices for voice and calls in the industry.
COAI Says Trai Should Intervene Only in Minimum Things
Trai is the Indian telecom regulator which has the authority to implement changes in the industry. COAI, which represents the private telecom operators, says the Trai should only deal with 'minimal type of things.' During an interaction with IANS, COAI Director General, Rajan Mathews said "Telecom regulator must be involved with the minimal type of things. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has taken up floor pricing only because of what happened in the industry. So keep the regulations at the bare minimum, unless you see a dramatic breakdown in market forces, that is the only time the regulator should intervene."
Furthermore, he opined that there's no requirement for Trai intervention if the operators are working to solve the issues. "If the market is solving the problem and the operators are working together to solve the issues, then there is to be a particular reason for the regulator to intervene. That's what is a transparent, predictable regulator," Mathews said.
For years now, Trai said that there's no requirement for the introduction of floor pricing in India. But last month, it came with a consultation paper for setting up the same. While this is a good move for the industry as Vodafone Idea is reeling under pressure, the involvement of Trai in every matter is not required, believes COAI.
Trai Always Stayed Away from Setting Floor Pricing in India
Telecom operators in India always had the freedom of launching their own tariffs. Due to this, Reliance Jio managed to beat other telcos and become a leading telecom operator in India within just 3.5 years of launch. After the entry of Reliance Jio to the Indian market, prepaid tariffs came down drastically and the data consumption grew at a rapid pace. In 2017, Trai sought whether there's any requirement for the introduction of floor pricing, but telcos Airtel and Vodafone Idea said they are fine with the current rules.
However, the AGR setback has put both Airtel and Vodafone Idea on backfoot. Vodafone Idea publicly sought relief from the government, whereas Airtel always supported the rule of floor pricing from Trai. The government must have ordered Trai to take comments from the stakeholders and public on floor pricing, post which they may decide on the minimum pricing for voice and data.
COAI did not comment anything on floor pricing consultation paper by Trai. Since the move will majorly help private telcos, COAI may not be against the same.