TRAI Moots Idea Of Tariff Calculator, More Transparent Disclosures
A person uses a calculator. (Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg)

TRAI Moots Idea Of Tariff Calculator, More Transparent Disclosures

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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Wednesday invited public views on enhancing transparency in disclosure of phone services rates and mooted an idea of introducing tariff calculator to help customers find the best plans to suit their usage.

The regulator has sought views on higher transparency in details of unlimited data plans, where promised speed is provided only up to a certain level of usage and information is concealed in service thereafter.

"The transparency in communication is not only relevant to ensure that consumers benefit from the access to critical information regarding the product/service but also to maintain and increase the competition intensity, vital for growth and development of the sector," TRAI said in its consultation paper on transparency in publishing of tariff offers.

Also read: TRAI Unlikely To Intervene In Telecom Tariffs, Floor Price For Now, Sources Say

The consultation paper from TRAI was issued when telecom operators announced their plan to raise tariffs.

The regulator has floated proposal to ask telecom operators to retain details of old plans, while they publish information around new plans.

It said that telecom operators publish new plans and delete old plans, which creates information vacuum for the subscribers who are on old plans.

"It may be important to ask the service providers to publish details of all plans (on offer and not on offer but active) until there is any bona fide subscriber for a particular plan in the billing system. The service providers may distinguish between such plans by appropriate marking," the regulator said.

TRAI said consumers face a situation of lack of information, misleading information, unclear or hard to find information and information difficult to assess and compare in the marketplace which affects their ability to make an informed choice which serves their needs.

"Along with published information on tariff vouchers, there may be merit in introducing tariff calculators which factor various STVs (special tariff vouchers) and CVs (combo vouchers) eligible for a particular tariff plan," the regulator said.

The tariff calculator should be able to offer the most optimal plan or voucher for subscription to a customer based on his input fed in the system around expected data usage, minutes of usage of outgoing voice calls, validity period etc.

TRAI said it has found quite often that telecom operators apply certain tariff policies and put conditions without disclosing the same in adequate detail in an unambiguous manner before it and the consumers.

"For example, most of the Telecom Service Providers apply First Recharge Condition and Fair Usage Policy but the terms for the same are not disclosed or disclosed in an ambiguous manner," the regulator said.

It also said the service providers are offering various non-telecom services as a part of the bundled offering to the existing and prospective customers and many complaints have been received regarding the charges being imposed on the customers after the free subscription period (if offered) of such service to customers is over.

TRAI has sought views on whether the service providers be asked to disclose clearly the implications of discontinuation of tariff plan after the expiry of the mandatory tariff protection period of six months on the provision of non-telecom services offered as a part of the bundle at the time of subscription to a particular plan.

It has fixed deadline of Dec. 26 for comments and Jan. 9 for the counter comments.

Also read: TRAI Chairman Meets Vodafone Idea CEO, Other Industry Officials To Identify Priority Issues For 2020

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