Consumers may get 60-day notice from unprofessional telcos

MUMBAI: The latest consultation paper of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is about issues related to closure of mobile phone services. TRAI seeks to extend the time mobile users get to change their service-provider if a particular company is shutting shop or selling its spectrum.

The paper titled 'Closure of Access Service" will seek feedback from telecom eco-system stakeholders to set up a framework to give an extended time and more options to users facing termination of services. A licence coming to fruition or failure of the service provider to bag spectrum or spectrum trading are normally the reasons behind an entity shutting shop.

TRAI took note of three significant instances. Reliance Communications stopped CDMA services and migrated to LTE. Airtel acquired spectrum from Aircel and Videocon through trading deals. In some cases, operators do not renew the spectrum and stop offering services in a particular area. Tata Docomo has lost subscribers due to such non-renewal.

The paper follows complaints from the subscribers who said they did not receive adequate notice or communication from their service-provider and their mobile number was disconnected. If TRAI has its way, cell-phone users will get more time to change their company in such a case.

A mobile user currently gets 30 days to change its service-provider but this has been found to be far less than expected. The law requires the company to give the department of telecommunications (DoT) a 60-day notice in such a scenario.

India’s low broadband penetration is a matter of concern and the government needs to do a lot more work in the field to go up in the global ladder, TRAI chairperson RS Sharma said.

Addressing Assocham summit, Sharma said that, according to an ITU paper, the penetration in India was only 7%. He said the report stated that India was even behind countries such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

TRAI has recommended to the government on using cable television network for broadband delivery. In developed US and in Europe, around 50-60 per cent broadband comes from Digital Cable TV, he added.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) attracted by the telecom sector in India meanwhile has jumped to more than US$10 billion in the first eight months of 2016-17 registering a 6-7 fold increase as compared to 2014-15 and 2015-16, telecom secretary JS Deepak said at the summit.

Considering about 97% of population was covered by the 2G telecom network provided mostly by private telecom operators, there was a need to both popularise and simplify USSD (unstructured supplementary service data), he added. There was a need to work on a push USSD rather than a pull USSD, merchants should be able to push in a message to feature phone users where-in one just has to okay it for a transaction, he said.

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