The telecom sector watchdog, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), on Thursday, asked telecom operators to provide at least one plan with a validity of 30 days. At present, plans come with a validity of 28 days or in multiples of that for prepaid consumers.

“Every Telecom Service Provider shall offer at least one Plan Voucher, one Special Tariff Voucher and one Combo Voucher having a validity of thirty days. Every Telecom Service Provider shall offer at least one Plan Voucher, one Special Tariff Voucher and one Combo Voucher which shall be renewable on the same date of every month,” said an order by TRAI.

The order means not every plan will have 30 days validity, but there will be one option along with all other plans, where the consumer can get 30 days validity, while others will have validity of 28 days, 56 days or 84 days. This also means that the present arrangement will continue but with more options.

“Telecom consumers will have more options to choose service offerings of appropriate validity and duration. This would also facilitate consumers in making a more informed tariff-related choice,” said TRAI, adding that Telecom Service Providers will have freedom to design and launch of tariffs in terms of validity.

The regulator said that it received references from consumers expressing concerns regarding the tariff offers of 28 days’ validity (or in multiples thereof) by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), rather than tariff offerings having validity for 30 days or a month. The authority noted that TSPs have been transparent in disclosing the validity period of the said tariff offers (28 days etc) and have not attempted to market the same as monthly tariffs. At the same time, the authority is conscious of the need to address consumer concerns and perceptions in this regard.

The authority noted the views by telcos that mandating recharge offer on same date of every month would require technical changes in their billing and associated systems. As stated by them, their existing systems are currently configured in a particular way, and changes may need to be carried out to these technical systems to enable a different configuration of validity periods.

The authority is of view that sufficient time needs to be given to reconfigure their systems for implementation of any change in the regulatory regime for validity period of tariffs. Accordingly, “it is decided that the instant order be implemented within 60 days’ time as during the period the requisite modifications may be effected by the TSPs in their systems”, it said