TRAI issues guidelines to amend Telecom Tariff Order; consumers set to gain

July 23rd, 2008 - 9:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Deciphering complex tariff plans and hidden accrued charges applied by telcos may be a thing of the past if the guidelines issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Wednesday are implemented by the Department of Telecom (DoT). Based on TRAI’s consultation paper titled ‘Issues Arising out of Plethora of Tariff Offers in Access Service Provision’ which was released in January and followed up by open house discussions, the watchdog issued the guidelines in order to amend the Telecom Tariff Order (TTO) of 1999.

“The Authority is of the view that the existing provisions of Telecommunications Tariff Order, 1999 need certain amendments to further enhance the transparency in the tariff offers in access service provision,” the guidelines stated.

According to these recommendations, consumers will “enjoy a minimum protection period of 12 months instead of six months as stated in the TT0 1999 if the telecom service provider hikes the tariff rates in any particular plan”.

This means that if a telco hikes any charges (Local/STD/SMS etc.) in a tariff plan, the existing customer will be immune to the increased rates for a minimum period of 12 months from the date of the hike.

On the other hand, if there is a reduction of tariff, the new rates will be applicable from the date of the revision. And unlike now, the customer will not have to confirm to the service provider his or her inclusion in the new tariff plan.

“No fixed fee other than applicable taxes shall be levied on recharges exclusively meant for provision of talk time value. However, the service providers can charge a nominal fee not exceeding Rs.2 per top up towards administrative costs,” the guidelines further stated.

So, when a customer gets a talk time recharge (not validity period recharge), service providers can only charge a fee of Rs.2 apart from any applicable taxes.

The guidelines also provide reprieve to customers enrolled in lifetime validity plans offered by telcos. The user will be free to migrate from one lifetime validity plan to another if it has a lower entry fee without having to pay any additional levies to the operator.

Moreover, the guidelines stated that if the lifetime validity plan comes with a clause of some minimum recharge after specific intervals, then the minimum period for this should not be less than six months.

“Before expiry of the specified duration for the recharge in these plans, if any, consumers are to be reminded by the service providers in advance to avoid disconnection by default,” the guidelines stated.

The guidelines will be further evaluated for which TRAI has sought views of stake holders, who include the current and potential service providers along with consumer groups.

After assessing stakeholders’ reactions, TRAI will forward the regulations either in the current or modified format to DoT for amending the TTO.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Sci-Tech |