New Delhi — The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently issued the Telecom Consumers Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015, to protect the interest of consumers using wireless data service.

The TRAI has been receiving several complaints from consumers regarding non-availability of information relating to the amount of data used during a data session. The service providers offer concessional tariff for data, up to a certain limit, through special tariff vouchers or combo vouchers (data packs), add on packs and also through certain tariff plans. The tariff for any usage beyond the specified limit is substantially higher.

Optimized-72Therefore, if the customer unknowingly exceeds the limit for concessional tariff, it results in substantial charges being levied, leading to sudden bill shock or unexpected deduction of balance amount.  The consumers have also voiced their concern about activation of internet service on mobile phones without their consent and deduction of charges for data usage.

To address these concerns, the TRAI proposed certain measures for public consultation through the draft Telecom Consumers Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015, issued on 29 April. Comments of stakeholders were sought up to 26 May.

Keeping in view the comments received during this consultation process and discussions with the service providers and their industry associations, the TRAI issued yesterday the regulations above.

Information to consumers relating to usage of data

short-term-rental-pcService providers have been mandated to provide, through SMS or USSD, information to mobile data users regarding data used, after every 10MB of data usage to all mobile data users except users of special data packs (STV/Combo/add-on-pack). Consumers will be provided an option to opt out if they do not desire to receive such information.

By the same method, service proiders must give information to users of various of special data packs, whenever the limit of data usage reaches 50%, 90% and 100% of data available in the account of the subscriber or when the data balance available in the account of the subscriber reaches 500 MB, 100 MB and 10 MB.

Further, the consumer shall be informed about the details of tariff applicable after exhausting the data limit, when the data limit reaches 90% or the data balance available in the account reaches 10 MB.

An alert to international roaming customer cautioning him to deactivate data service if he does not intend to use data services must be issued as per the new rules.

The service providers have been given time till 1 November for compliance with the new regulations.

Activation or Deactivation of data services

Quad_Band_GSM_Fixed_Wireless_SIM_Card_Land_Phone_FWPData services should be activated only with the explicit consent of the subscriber through a toll free short code 1925.  The data services could also be deactivated through the toll free short code 1925.

Data services through special tariff voucher or combo voucher or add-on pack will be deemed to have been activated with consent till the expiry of the validity period of the voucher/pack or on the consumption of entire data, whichever is earlier.

The customers should also be informed through SMS at periodic intervals about the prescribed procedure for deactivation of data.

The service providers’ have been given time till 1 September 2015 for implementation.

The “Telecom Consumers Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015” is available on TRAI website http://www.trai.gov.in. For any further clarifications, contact A Robert J Ravi, Advisor (QOS) on 01123230404.