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Operators have to inform customers on data usage: TRAI

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

India’s telecom regulator TRAI on Friday made it mandatory for telecom operators to issue notices in form of USSD or SMS about data usage to its customers at regular intervals.

Mobile network operators now need to send information about the usage to data users at every 10 MB of data consumption except customers opting for special schemes like add-on packs, combo offers and others. The consumers are to be provided with an option to opt out if they do not desire to receive such information.

For customers using special data packs, the operator has to compulsorily inform the customer whenever the limit of data usage reaches 50 per cent, 90 per cent and full exhaustion of the allotted data limit.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also ordered the operators to intimate customers when the data balance available in the account reaches 500 MB, 100 MB and 10MB.

“Further the consumer shall be informed about the details of tariff applicable after exhausting the data limit, when the data limit reaches 90 percent or the data balance available in the account reaches 10MB,” TRAI said in a note.

Operators also need to send an alert to international roaming customer cautioning the person to deactivate data service if one does not intend to use data services.

TRAI ordered the service providers to implement the same by November 1 this year.

The regulator further said data services should be activated only with the explicit consent of the subscriber through a toll free short code – 1925. The same short code can be used to deactivate the data services as well.

“Data services through Special Tariff Voucher or Combo Voucher or add-on pack will be deemed to have been activated with consent till the expiry of the validity period of the voucher/pack or on the consumption of entire data, whichever is earlier,” said the TRAI notification.

Additionally, the customers also need to be informed through SMS at periodic intervals about the prescribed procedure for deactivation of data.

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

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TRAI Believes, New Broadcast Tariffs Have Put In Place A System of Transparency

A consumer association expert said TRAI's formula to bring down cost for consumers is based on low usage.

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"The objective of the regulations is to essentially bring out a regime of transparency and allow the customers to choose channels which they want to watch, and then allow the market forces which were not in play earlier," he said. Pixabay

Telecom regulator TRAI has asserted that the new broadcast tariffs have put in place a system of transparency, non-discrimination and fairplay, while reducing the bills of the average TV watcher.

“The implementation of the new broadcast tariff regime is working out very well. The monthly bills of thousands of consumers have also been reduced. The consumer’s bill is a function of how much he watches, if he or she watches hundreds of channels obviously the bills will go up. If someone watches 25 channels, the bill will come down to one-third,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma told IANS in an interview here.

“The objective of the regulations is to essentially bring out a regime of transparency and allow the customers to choose channels which they want to watch, and then allow the market forces which were not in play earlier,” he said.

The market, earlier, was focused on broadcasters, distributers and operators, while theconsumer was not a participant. Now, the regulation has brought the market forces into play and removed some of the issues of transparency and non-discrimination, Sharma said.

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Our analysis of the impact of the regulations indicates a varied impact on monthly TV bills. Based on current pricing, the monthly TV bill can go up by 25 per cent from Rs 230-240 to about Rs 300 per month. Pixabay

The TRAI Chairman’s remarks come amidst complaints that the new charges are higher than those under the previous framework for an average consumer.

Sharma said that after the implementation of the new tariff regime, there is no difference between the small operator and a large operator, as they both get the channels at the same rate from the broadcasters.

“Transparency, non-discrimination and fair play are larger principles. And once the market starts playing, then, hopefully, the problem that some consumers have got higher bills also might be solved,” he noted.

According to the regulator, the basic objective of the new norms was not to reduce or increase the bills but to create a buffet of channels where everyone is charged the same.

“We introduced also a la carte model and you will pay for that and should not be asked to pay for something which you don’t watch,” Sharma said.

Asked about the shift from the old system to the new one, he said there is around 100 per cent conversion rate.

“Most of them have subscribed to the new regime or some of them have been put to a ‘best fit’ package. As the deadline of 31st March approaches, everybody will come onto the new platform,” he said.

The Chairman also said there is no change on the deadline of shifting to the new system. “The deadline stays”, he said.

Earlier in February, ratings agency CRISIL had also mentioned an increased monthly bill for most subscribers of television channels.

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“The objective of the regulations is to essentially bring out a regime of transparency and allow the customers to choose channels which they want to watch, and then allow the market forces which were not in play earlier,” he said.
Pixabay

“Our analysis of the impact of the regulations indicates a varied impact on monthly TV bills. Based on current pricing, the monthly TV bill can go up by 25 per cent from Rs 230-240 to about Rs 300 per month for viewers who opt for the top-10 channels, but will come down for those who opt up to top five channels,” Sachin Gupta, senior director, ratings at CRISIL had said.

CRISIL’s analysis assumes a scenario where subscribers opt for the top-10 channels by viewership in addition to the free-to-air (FTA) ones.

Sharma had countered the CRISIL report saying it was prepared with an “inadequate understanding” of the TV distribution market and it was incorrect.

Also Read: The Challenges Ahead of Pramod Sawant, The New Chief Minister of Goa

A consumer association expert said TRAI’s formula to bring down cost for consumers is based on low usage.

In its frequently asked questions (FAQ) page, TRAI says, “80 per cent subscribers, as per the viewing pattern given by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), either view or flip 40 or less number of channels. (IANS)