The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday asked telecom companies to publish details of their tariff plans for both prepaid and postpaid services within 15 days. The "essential disclosures", mandated in TRAI's directive, include information on units of voice, data and SMS, and its rates, limits of usage rates and speeds beyond entitled use. The directive has been issued to enhance transparency in disclosure and publishing of tariff offers which are rolled out by telcos.
The regulator believes that current format was insufficient and did not provide complete information related to tariff plans. "It has been observed that existing measures adopted by telecom service providers are not transparent as they should be and that some of the telecom service providers are not prominently highlighting additional terms and conditions and are also collating the terms and conditions applicable to various tariffs on a single web-page and that the relevant information either gets lost in the maze of detail or becomes ambiguous and incomprehensible to consumers," TRAI said.
According to Trai, transparency in communication of tariff by the telcos to the customers will help them take informed decision and would also aid in maintaining and promoting competition, which is vital for the growth of the industry.
"Tariffs to be charged by service providers from subscribers for telecommunication services along with the conditions thereof shall be published in such a manner as the authority may from time to time direct," Trai said in a circular.
The telcos have been directed to publish details of each tariff plan for postpaid and prepaid subscribers, and offer information to subscribers at customer care centres, points of sales, retail outlets and websites, and apps with requisite disclosures. Telcos will also have to transparently inform subscribers about upfront cost along with details like advance rentals, deposits, connection fee for postpaid services as well as top up, tariffs vouchers and others, the directive said.
TRAI said it had initiated the exercise in view of the changes in composition of tariff plans, over a period of time, which led to the possibility that consumers may be facing situations of lack of information, unclear or hard to find details -- affecting their ability to make an informed choice.
"...the authority, after due consideration of comments received from stakeholders, has arrived at a conclusion that the existing regulatory measures relating to publication of tariff plans need to be revised," it said.
Telcos have been asked to submit to TRAI a compliance report within 15 days. They will also have to ensure continued compliance by way of self-certificate by the 7th of the month after each quarter-end.
On tariff advertisements, TRAI has directed telcos to prominently highlight additional terms and conditions and also provide a link to the norms for each of the offering, while disseminating tariff-related information, within the next 15 days.