Confused about a plethora of tariff plans and glitzy advertisements that confound more than enlighten you? The telecom regulator is out to make things easier.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday released a consultation paper aimed at simplifying the regime for telecom customers, which would hopefully bring both transparency and tariff cuts in its wake.
“Sometimes it becomes difficult for consumers to find, understand and use the information available in the market in order to make decisions on choice of service provider and tariff packages that best meet their needs,” the paper said.
“It is good that TRAI is thinking in bringing more transparency instead of tariff fixing,” said Mahesh Uppal, director of consulting firm ComFirst India Pvt Ltd.
“Quite often there are many charges that are visible only if you read the fine prints.”
Operators now have to report new tariff schemes to the regulator within seven days of introducing them. Current guidelines restrict the number of tariff plans per operator to 25. With nine or ten operators in each zone, the array becomes confusing for the users.
In Mumbai, for example, there are as many as 134 schemes.
The regulator is exploring the possibility of limiting the number of tariff schemes that an operator can offer.
Industry officials are not sure if users need the simplicity.
“I believe that by offering more number of plans, the field becomes more competitive. The ultimate benefit goes to the subscriber. As far as transparency is concerned, all tariff plans are available on the websites,” said S.C. Khanna, secretary-general, Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI).
However, the regulator has received complaints from a large number of consumer groups regarding misleading advertisements.