TRAI to rework tariffs; seeks industry, consumer views

TRAI's initiative assumes significance in the wake of rising number of promotional offers and increasing competition in the telecom market. It has received representations from consumers against the multiplicity of plans in the market, leading to confusion among consumers.

Regulations bar a service provider from offering more than 25 tariff plans in a service area at any given time.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper, "Certain Issues relating to Telecom Tariffs", and has sought views from all stakeholders including operators by November 15.

TRAI move coincides with the government plans to merge all 22 telecom circles (states) into one in order to slash roaming charges. The Department of Telecom (DoT) is likely to consider the proposal soon.

TRAI has specified a standard tariff package for rural fixed line services which the service providers are mandated to offer to the customers in addition to any alternate tariff packages.

According to some of the operators, there is a scope for reducing termination charges (a charge paid by an operator on whose network call ends to the one from whose network call originates). If this happens, call charges are likely to fall further from current levels.
The tariff plans offered by the service providers have different component of rent and call charges, processing fee, talk time and value added services etc.

Adequate price transparency is crucial for the correct operation of an efficient and competitive market.

Sometimes it becomes difficult for consumers to find, understand and use the information available on the market in order to make decisions on the choice of service provider and/or tariff packages that best meet their needs.

The transparency of tariff in telecom sector is necessary to protect interests of consumers and to facilitate further growth of telecom services in India.

The highest number of tariff plans in a service area in respect of GSM prepaid category is 39 (Bihar and Mumbai) and the average number is 27. Whereas, in case of CDMA prepaid category, the 22 highest number of tariff plans is 18 (MP and Punjab) and the average number is 12.

In respect of GSM post paid, the highest number of tariff plans is 95 (Mumbai) and the average number is 61. In respect of CDMA post paid, the highest number of tariff plans is 38 (Punjab) and the average number is 27.

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