TRAI floats consultation paper on tariff offers

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2018

As per regulations, each plan should be checked if it includes interconnection usage charges compliance, non-discrimination and non-predation

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday floated a consultation paper to discuss whether tariff offers made by telecom service providers (TSPs) are transparent enough and the current definition, such as ‘non-discrimination’, is adequate.

Titled ‘Consultation Paper on Regulatory Principles of Tariff Assessment’, TRAI has sought comments from stakeholders by March 17 and counter-comments by March 24.

Interestingly, this comes at a time when telecom companies, such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, have approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) contesting latest entrant Jio’s free service offers. TRAI has, however, not supported any of the allegations by incumbent players.

Rules for tariffs

According to TRAI’s Regulation of Tariff, at present, except for tariffs for national roaming, fixed rural telephony and leased lines, tariffs for other telecommunication service are under forbearance.

In accordance with the policy of ‘light-touch’ regulation being followed, the tariff framework gives the TSPs the freedom to design the tariffs according to the prevailing market conditions.

“This has resulted in emergence of new and innovative products that are designed to provide telecom services at affordable and competitive price to the consumers,” it said.

TRAI said that while periodic amendments have been made to the Telecommunication Tariff Order (TTO) in 1999 and other regulations in response to market developments from time to time, it is felt that a comprehensive review of the TTO is required to adequately address changes in the sector.

“This review is also apt in the light of the meeting held with the CEOs of the TSPs on January 6, 2017 to discuss the annual calendar of activities of TRAI for the year 2017, which, inter alia, included developing a new framework for tariffs in evolving telecommunication sector and on which there was a consensus,” TRAI said.

As per TRAI regulations, principle says that each tariff plan should be checked if it includes interconnection usage charges (IUC) compliance, non-discrimination and non-predation.

Therefore, the “Authority finds it necessary to initiate a consultation process on some of the extant regulatory principles and if required to bring about necessary modifications, wherever required,” it added.

Some questions TRAI has asked are whether measures prescribed currently are adequate to ensure transparency in tariff offers; if the current definition relating to ‘non-discrimination’ is adequate; which offers should qualify as ‘promotional’ and what should be their features, etc.

Published on February 17, 2017

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