Trai mandates 6 months validity period for tariff plans

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today notified the 31st amendment to the telecommunication tariff order (TTO) 1999, mandating minimum validity period of six months for tariff plans offered by access providers from the date of enrolment of the subscriber to the tariff plan.

The amendment protects the subscribers from any increase in tariffs during the said six months period and at the same time, the service provider shall be free to reduce tariffs at any time.

The subscribers in the said tariff plan shall be free to choose any other tariff plan, even during the six months period. The service providers are also mandated to accept and implement all such requests for change of plan immediately or from the start of next billing cycle.

The above decisions have been taken by the authority after a consultation process, which focused on the consumer concerns arising out of large number of tariff plans offered by the access providers. These include confusion in the minds of consumers affecting their ability to make informed choice, the frequent and sudden changes/withdrawal of the plans, transparency in charging, migration etc.

The Trai issued a consultation paper "Limiting the number of tariff plans by the Access Providers" on 8 March 2004 discussing the various aspects of the problems and proposing a cap on the number of plans that can be offered at any point of time by the access providers.

In view of the responses received during the consultation process and also in view of the dynamism in the market on account of intense competition, the authority has decided not to change the existing cap of 25 tariff plans on offer. At the same time the authority also felt that there is a need to enhance the level of transparency in provision of service especially in the manner in which the tariffs are offered and implemented.

The authority has, therefore, decided to incorporate the above provisions in the TTO thereby making its compliance mandatory for the access providers. The new provisions would curb the practice of the operators offering new regular tariffs/tariff plans and withdrawing or revising it suddenly, upsetting the basic considerations on which the subscriber has exercised his choice for the tariff.

The new provisions will ensure that the service would be available to the subscriber for the chosen price level at least for a period of six months and also make the migration of the subscribers from one plan to another more transparent and consumer friendly.

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