Airtel, Vodafone to disclose details about ‘segmented offers’ of TRAI

TRAI’s the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is an independent regulatory body established by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997 to oversee the telecommunications industry in India. As time has evolved, eventually the TRAI’s pattern of governing and instructing telecommunication companies have also changed. Through this article, one will get to know about the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority in India. It’s history, it’s ultimate goal of achieving success in the telecommunication industry by providing better and improved broadcasting and cable connections to the public at large, it’s (TRAI’S) functions and objectives too. A special reference is being given to the case of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India v. M/S Bharti Ltd. And Ors.

History

TRAI was established on 20 February 1997 by an act of Parliament to regulate telecom services and tariffs in India. Earlier regulation of telecom services and tariffs was overseen by the Central Government. TRAI’s mission is the growth of telecommunications in India to enable the country to have a leading role in the emerging global information society. One of its main objectives is to promote fair and transparent competition in the market. TRAI regularly issues orders and directions on various subjects such as tariffs, interconnections, quality of service and mobile number portability. Its headquarters is at Mahanagar Doorsanchar Bhawan. Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, New Delhi.

Introduction

TRAI or Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is an independent regulatory body established by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997 to oversee the telecommunications industry in India. The main objective of TRAI is to establish the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). The main purpose of the institutions is to regulate telecommunication services, adjudicate disputes, dispose of appeals and protect the interest of the service providers as well as consumers. It also promotes and ensures the orderly growth of the telecom sector.

Mission of TRAI

TRAI’s mission is to create and nurture conditions for the growth of telecommunications including broadcasting and cable services in the country in a manner and at a pace which will enable India to play a leading role in the emerging global information society. 

TRAI Functions

  • Consumer protection- here TRAI ensures that the customer is protected against the problem of call drop. TRAI is punished with heavy fines too if the call drops.
  • Ensure Quality of Management- it means the quality and speed of the internet is ensured by TRAI.
  • Ensure Affordable Tariff– earlier the consumer in the name of the tariff has to pay Rs.299 for 2GB of data and the offer is validated for 1 month only but now in today’s era, the consumer need to pay Rs.399 for 1.5GB data and the offer is validated for 3 months.
  • Give Direction & Maintain Order– means to give instructions to the companies under the telecommunication sector.
  • Recommendations– to give each and every kind of recommendations and  TRAI do act as a dispute resolution body.

Objectives of TRAI 

  1. Increasing teledensity and access to telecommunications in the country at affordable prices. 
  2. Making available telecommunication services which in terms of range, price and quality are comparable to the best in the world.
  3. Avoiding a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
  4. Establishing an interconnection regime that allows fair, transparent, prompt and equitable interconnection.
  5. Re-balancing tariffs so that the objectives of affordability and operation viability are met consistently.

TRAI Apps

TRAI has introduced 3 mobile apps and web portal for voice, Data quality and Tracking

  1. TRAI My call app is an Android application for crowdsourced voice call quality monitoring. It will help users to rate their experience about voice call quality in real-time and help TRAI gather customer experience.
  2. TRAI My Speed app that will enable the regulator to obtain test-driven data from users in all service areas, without any action by the users. 
  3. DND 2.0 App (Do Not Disturb) Services app will help smartphone users to register their mobile numbers under DND to avoid unsolicited commercial communication/ telemarketing calls/ SMS.

Airtel, Vodafone case

Name of the case- Telecom Regulatory Authority of India v. M/S Bharti Ltd. And Ors.

Date of judgement- 6th November 2020

Judges-  Justice S.A Bodle, Justice A.S Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramahanian

In the above-mentioned case-law, the Supreme court of India directs Bharti Airtel and Vodafone to disclose details about segmented offers to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI).

TRAI gave a request, in particular, the Telecommunication Tariff (63rd Amendment) Order. Challenging the said Tariff request, Bharti Airtel Limited, Idea Cellular Limited, and Vodafone Mobile Services Limited documented bids in Telecom before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal(TDSAT). Principally, the test was to the Reporting Requirements and Significant Market Power. The telecom specialist organizations looked for an interval remaining of the Tariff Order. The specialist organizations were absolved from unveiling the names of their clients and other delicate data. 

Testing the between the time course of action so given by TDSAT, TRI recorded writ petitions under the watchful eye of the High Court of Delhi. The writ petitions were excused, with a solicitation to the court to discard the advances as quickly as could reasonably be expected. TDSAT heard the requests at last and permitted them halfway by the last request. The TDSAT put aside the Telecom Tariff 63rd Amendment Order to the extent that it changes the ideas of SMP, Non-predation, and the connected arrangements 

The litigant (TRAI) has recorded an application for looking for between time bearings to the specialist co-ops to uncover data/subtleties looked for by the appealing party concerning the portioned offers. 

The respondent battled under the steady gaze of the Court that at whatever point the candidate TRAI needed to call for subtleties of divided proposals about which TRAI got objections, the respondents were prepared to outfit the equivalent. It is battled by the respondent that the TRAI can’t look for such between time bearings, in the wake of having neglected to make sure about a stay of the activity of the reproved request. 

The Court in its investigation expressed that the contention of the respondents that the petition for a remain of activity of the censured request was allowed distinctly somewhat when the advances were conceded, doesn’t take the respondents any place. 

The Court in its judgment expressed that what is currently looked for by TRAI to guarantee adherence to the administrative standards of straightforwardness, non-separation and non-predation can’t be stated, in any event, at first sight, to be either unlawful or completely inappropriate. Consequently, The heading is given to the respondents to unveil data/subtleties looked for by the candidate concerning section offers.

Drawbacks of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has revised the prices of cable and DTH plans under the new rules. With this, the users are now aware of the prices of the services they are using. They know that the channels they are using, they are paying for that only. However, there is another aspect to it. TRAI’s new rules have some shortcomings that cause resentment among people. Here some of the shortcomings are being highlighted-

  1. Cable TV operators suffer: Cable operators are going through difficulties after the roll-out of the new rules. The biggest reason for this is that their earnings have gone down. Where operators in Kolkata used to earn Rs. 175 to Rs. 200 per user earlier. At the same time, it has now become 90 rupees. Their earnings have come down by 45 per cent. With this operators are also facing difficulty in paying salaries to employees (who go for maintenance fees). Due to this, the operators had asked to take service charge from TRAI. 
  2. Increased monthly rentals for subscribers: Many users have said that they have to pay more monthly rentals under new rules. Whereas earlier the bill was less. Although this is not a new issue, it has been around for a long time. This has been noted in many surveys and studies. In a study conducted by YouGov, it has been reported that the demand for OTT apps and video have increased due to the introduction of the new tariff, users have to pay more bills and for the same. 
  3. Lack of awareness and technical knowledge: According to the new tariff rules, users have to switch to the new system. This situation becomes difficult when the users themselves have to switch from one plan to another. The older age group suffered the most because of this. This is because they do not understand the migration process. Many users are not aware of how to select the channels by visiting the website.

Conclusion

The clear intentions of balancing the interest of people can be seen in the Telecom Regulatory Authority in India. Moreover, the legislative authority through this authority (TRAI) wants to promote a healthy business environment. The purpose of bringing TRAI is nothing but to work in the interest of the public concerning telecommunications. It will be interesting to know how upcoming rules and regulations issued by TRAI, would affect the telecommunication industry and people at large.

References-

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