It’s almost a year now, that the mobile number portability has become a part of the Great Indian Telecom Tamasha. However, the new regulation received a cold shoulder from the telecom subscribers, if statistical history is anything to go by.
While lower MNP churn rate have brought relief to telecom operators, the telecom regulator TRAI has let no stone unfurled to tighten the noose on the service quality provided by the elite telcos.
The regulator is going all out to make life easier for subscribers with consumer-friendly norms and stricter complaint monitoring system. Furthermore, the TRAI has notified few more directives, to lay ground for straight talk with the telecom operators, like itemised billing for pre-paid mobile users and new consumer complaint redressal regulations.
Here are few latest notifications by the TRAI directed at telcos:
Itemised Billing for Pre-paid consumers
Let me start with the most important notification by the regulator – that makes it obligatory for every service provider to provide past usage details in respect of pre-paid mobile connections, within a period of 30 days of receipt of such request, at “reasonable charges” not exceeding Rs.50.
Such itemized billing service shall be issued with respect of following services rendered:
- Itemized usage charge for all calls;
- Number of SMS sent and the amount charged for such SMSs;
- Value Added Services availed and the amount charged for such service;
- Premium Rate Service availed and the amount charged for such service;
- Roaming charges.
Usage Information to Pre-paid consumers
This point sounds almost same as itemized billing – but there is small difference between the two. While itemized billing service can be availed by the consumers for the past 6 months of service usage from the date of request; ‘usage information’ pertains to immediate information, provided through SMS, by the service provider – regarding duration of call, charges deducted for the call and the account balance.
What’s more, the telecom operators also need to provide you such alerts every time you access mobile internet – with the quantum of data usage, charges deducted and the balance in the account.
Account Information to Pre-paid consumers
Today, a majority of the pre-paid users might not be aware about the tariff plans and charges applicable to them – whether they’re subscribed to life-long prepaid plan, subsidized SMS plans or some don’t even remember the normal call charges applicable to them.
Thus, the regulator has notified telcos to establish or allot a separate toll free short code to enable consumers to seek, through SMS, the information regarding their tariff plan information, applicable rates on national and international calling, SMS & data usage charges and VAS activated on their cell phone numbers.
Premium Rate Service Alert
Believe it or not – the highest number of complaint that telecom subscribers have against their operators is regarding deduction of charges for accessing Premium Rate Services of which they were not even aware about.
Over here, the problem is lack of explicit awareness and education amongst the subscribers while accessing expensive value added services on their mobile phones. To resolve this complaint, the TRAI has directed that every service provider shall ensure that the rate of any Premium service is conveyed to the consumer through a voice alert prior to the materialization of the service.
[TRAI directive pdf]