Regulators

RS Sharma re-appointed TRAI chairman till Sept 2020

The fiesty chairman has pulled no punches during his tenure

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MUMBAI: The Indian government on Thursday re-appointed RS Sharma as the chairman of Telecom Regulatory of India (TRAI) till 30 September 2020 when he attains the age of 65 or till further notice. Sharma completed his first tenure as the chairman on 9 August 2018.

This decision was taken today by the appointment committee of the cabinet and necessary communication in this regards has been sent to the Department of Telecommunications.

Talking to PTI on Wednesday, Sharma said,"Some people take the line that if you are pro-consumer, you are anti-industry... that is far from the truth. Pro-consumer does not mean anti-industry. It is not a zero-sum game, one should be conscious of that.”

Sharma noted that the telecom sector has undergone a "fundamental change" marked by operator consolidation, the explosion of data and fierce market competition.

"There are concerns about the quality of service and those concerns, unfortunately, remain till date. TRAI has tried to do the best, within the framework of the Act.

There is a new regulation on service quality that is granular and will be helpful...operators have also become sensitive to the fact that they cannot leave one area or tower unattended for long," Sharma said.

More recently, industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) raised a red flag over TRAI's new regulations on curbing pesky calls and messages, saying tailoring of systems, and use of blockchain technology will involve Rs 200-400 crore investment and 18 months for the rollout, at a time when the sector is financially-stressed.

Sharma on Wednesday said that "reasonable time" has been given to the telecom operators on norms to curtail pesky telemarketing calls and messages. The rules, he said, came about only after a prolonged discussion with the industry."I think reasonable time has been given...My position has been that the regulation has come after a lengthy year-long discussion process. It is not the knee-jerk reaction of TRAI, that it has issued these regulations," Sharma said.

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