Regulators

TRAI proposes more data pack usage for mobile users; Khullar non-committal on net neutrality

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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) wants telecom service providers to provide ample information about subscribed data pack usage.

TRAI said in the draft ''Telecom Consumers Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015'' that it proposes to mandate the service providers to provide information, through SMS or unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), to mobile users, who have subscribed to data connection other than through data packs about quantum of data used and the tariff thereof after every 5,000 kilobytes of data usage.

The draft was released on 29 April and comments of stakeholders can be submitted till 12 May.

TRAI has been receiving several complaints from consumers regarding non-availability of information relating to the amount of data used during a data session.

The service providers offer concessional tariff for data, up to a certain limit, through special tariff vouchers or combo vouchers (data packs) and also through certain tariff plans. The tariff for any usage beyond the specified limit is substantially higher, and in case the customer does not know about reaching the limit for concessional tariff, it results in substantial charges levied, leading to sudden bill shock or unexpected deduction of balance amount.

''The consumers have also voiced their concern about activation of internet service on mobile phones without their consent and knowledge leading to sudden deduction of charges for data usage,'' the statement said.

TRAI has examined these complaints and has felt that measures need to be taken for addressing these genuine concerns of customers. In this regard, TRAI proposes to amend the Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2012.

The regulator also proposed to mandate the service providers to provide the mobile subscriber who has taken data connection through data packs or through tariff plan with discounted tariff up to certain limit, an alert through SMS or USSD, whenever the limit of data usage reaches 50 per cent, 90 per cent and 100 per cent of data limit.

''Also when the usage reaches 90 per cent of the limit, information about the applicable tariff beyond the data limit shall also to be communicated,'' the statement added.

It is proposed that data services should be activated or deactivated only with the explicit consent of the subscriber through toll free short code 1925, following the prescribed procedures for obtaining explicit consent of the consumer and for deactivation data.

In fact, TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar recently said that TRAI is likely to announce new parameters for improvement of quality of service for telecom operators in a month's time to tackle call dropping and other problems being faced by customers.

He was speaking at the 2nd National Summit on 'IT & Mobile Banking: Digital Transformation of Indian Banking. Enabling Financial Inclusion,' organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.

Regarding the ongoing debate on net neutrality, Khullar said, ''The consultation process on network neutrality is still on till that consultation is complete, I will not make any statement.''

Khullar also said that financial inclusion could be deeply achieved by harnessing new technology, which does not cater exclusively to those who are already banked or those living in urban areas.

''Do not delude yourself into believing that merely because technology exists, it will be suddenly harnessed for everybody's good. The way it has worked so far at least, it has been harnessed for the good of a very few as it’s only those having devices and are electronically savvy who are in good shape,'' he added.

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