Regulators

TRAI issues regulations relating to VAS for pre-paid consumers

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NEW DELHI: Realising that its earlier regulations relate only to subscription-based value added services, the Telecom Authority of India (TRAI) has directed all access service providers to ensure that the value added service (VAS) for products embedded in the SIM application Tool Kit (STK) of SIM card is provided to the consumer only after obtaining the explicit consent of the consumer in accordance with a procedure specified by the regulator.

The directive has to be implemented by all access service providers including the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) within sixty days.

The new directive has been issued under section 13, read with sub-clauses (i) and (v) of clause (b) of sub-section ( 1) of section 11 of the TRAI Act 1997 and clause 11 of the Telecom Tariff Order 1999 to ensure compliance of terms and conditions of license and to protect the interest of consumers.

The process of providing value added service for products embedded in the SIM card:

(a) For obtaining explicit consent through consumer originated SMS:

Step 1: The consumer explores the VAS link in the SIM Application Tool Kit (STK) of the SIM card and clicks the link.

Step 2: The service provider after receiving the message/information shall inform consumer through SMS  regarding the  value added service requested; its validity; the  charges thereof and the consumer shall be asked to confirm the request within sixty minutes by sending 'yes' to the specified number;

Step 3: If no confirmation is received from the consumer, the request of the consumer shall not be processed;

Step 4: If the consumer confirms his   request, the value added service platform of the service provider shall deliver the product on the mobile number of the consumer and the consent logs shall be stored in the system of the service provider in an un-editable format;

Step 5: The consumer shall receive an SMS immediately after delivery of the product to the consumer, informing the consumer about charges deducted and the balance remaining;

(b) For obtaining explicit consent through third party consent gateway:

Step 1: The consumer explores the VAS link in the SIM Application Tool Kit (STK) of the SIM card and clicks the link.

Step 2: The service provider after receiving the message/information shall inform the   consumer through SMS regarding  the value added service requested; its validity; the charges thereof, and the consumer shall be forwarded to the “Consent Gateway” set up by the service provider and managed by a third party;

Step 3: The "Consent Gateway" shall seek the second consent of the consumer;

Step 4: The consumer shall give his consent by pressing the relevant key, and the consent logs shall be stored in the system of the service provider in an un-editable format;

Step 5: The "Consent Gateway" shall forward the consent of the consumer to the value added service platform of the service provider;

Step 6: The value added service platform of the service provider shall deliver the product on the mobile number of the consumer;

Step 7: The consumer shall receive an SMS immediately after delivery of the product to   the consumer, informing the consumer about the charges deducted and the balance remaining.

TRAI said the genesis of some of the complaints is that a number of value  added  service products are embedded in  the SIM card and in many cases the consumer accidentally or unknowingly clicks these  products and the customer is immediately charged  for the service, without being                                    provided with any information regarding the applicable charges and also without being offered any opportunity to give consent as to whether he wants to proceed or not.

The regulator said this emerged during its monitoring the compliance of the directions pertaining to the activation and deactivation of value added services and while examining some of the complaints received by the Authority relating to activation of value added services without consent. 

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