TRAI to review transparency of telecom tariff plans and offers

“Telcos will be required to share all information regarding tariffs and be transparent with the consumers” 

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has said that it plans to review tariff plans and offers from telcos to make sure there is full transparency. As telecom providers like Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Jio are planning to raise data prices for prepaid and postpaid users, TRAI plans on reviewing the tariff rates and conditions of services. In a new statement, TRAI said that it wants to protect the interests of the consumers and that telcos should be more transparent when sharing the details about the tariffs. 

TRAI has received a number of complaints from consumers over the lack of transparency with tariff plans, IANS reports. The regulator has written a consultation paper, seeking opinions from stakeholders on whether there should be a prescribed format for rolling out tariffs. The regulatory authority stated.

“It is felt that a comprehensive review of extant provisions aimed at transparency relating to flow of information from telecom service providers to consumers is essential. Accordingly, this consultation paper has been issued with the objective of empowering consumers by making available all relevant information to them and to eliminate the instances of adverse choices made by consumers.”

According to TRAI’s observations, there is a discrepancy between the actual tariff applicable to the consumer and the tariff given in the tariff plan voucher. This is mainly because operators usually offer STVs (Special tariff voucher) and CVs (combo voucher) to the customers. These vouchers can change the tariff and will not be displayed in the tariff plan information. 

Basic tariff plan description may not be enough for consumers to understand what that tariff plan really offers. As per a framework provided by the regulatory authority, the transparency in tariffs is based on directions that were originally published in 2012. However, these have now been modified and all telecom operators are required to adhere to them. Any changes to tariff plans have to be updated on both the websites and customer care centres. Also, the updated tariff information with better transparency will have to be available on day 7 of January, April, July and October.

In December, Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio are expected to increase tariffs for prepaid and postpaid subscribers. According to some reports, tariffs could rise by as much as 20 per cent. TRAI is also not planning to interfere in this tariff hike and will reportedly not fix any floor price as well.