Understanding TRAI’s New Rules & Regulations For Telecom Operators
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India was created by an Act of Parliament on 20th February 1997 to monitor telecommunication and prices in India. The aim of TRAI is to establish and foster circumstances for the growth of telecommunications in India so that the country may play a leading role in the growing global information society.
One of its primary goals is to create an open and equitable system that stimulates a level playing field as well as genuine competition in the market. TRAI publishes orders and directives on a regular basis on a variety of topics, including pricing, interconnectivity, service quality, Direct To Home (DTH) lines, and mobile number portability.
As TRAI continues to update its rules and regulations, there is little question that such policies frequently have a direct influence on consumers. As a result, we will look at all of the new laws and restrictions imposed by TRAI on telecom operators, as well as other efforts done by this organization, in this post.
TRAI produces numerous reports under the Release/Publication "Reports" area to promote openness and provide a data-based overview of the Indian Telecom Industry at regular intervals.
TRAI New Rules & Regulations
Over the past couple of years, TRAI has released a few new rules and regulations for telecom operators in an attempt to increase user experience and transparency.
1. Re-activate SMS Checking Filters
Starting April 1, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has instructed telecom providers to restart SMS screening filters and prohibit traffic that does not meet regulatory criteria. In a notice to telemarketers, TRAI stated, "As adequate opportunities have been provided to the major organizations to adhere to the following requirements, customers cannot be denied the advantages of the regulatory rules."
As a result, from April 1, 2021, any text faltering in the scrubbing owing to non-compliance with regulatory standards would be discarded.
According to reports, TRAI met with telecom providers and over 50 telemarketing organizations from around the country to address the challenges that businesses encounter while implementing the sophisticated blockchain-based SMS filtering system. The primary entities must follow the SMS regulations, which include SMS scrubbing.
Every primary organization that delivers commercial SMS to its consumers must match the SMS content with a pre-registered format. Earlier to this, even traffic that had missed in the content scrubbing was permitted to be sent in order to prevent consumer discomfort.
According to the publication, telemarketers stated that adhering to the new SMS regulations might result in the same OTP failure that occurred when they originally complied with the requirements and that this is not practical because numerous templates are sent daily.
However, when the rule went into effect in April, it caused widespread difficulty to the general population due to a widespread failure to generate SMSes and one-time passwords (OTPs). Online banking, credit card transactions, Aadhaar-enabled payments, train ticket reservations, and vaccination registrations were among the services affected by the OTP failure.
Following that, there was a type of blame game in which banks and financial firms accused telecom providers, who then accused Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) companies for failing to agree to the new laws.
2. Clear Communication of Tariff Plans
Telecommunications regulator TRAI published a new set of regulations for telcos' publication and marketing of pricing plans, in an effort to increase transparency in mobile offerings and assist customers in making informed selections.
The consumer-oriented approach is significant since telecom customers frequently face difficulties such as a lack of information, confusing or difficult-to-find plan specifics - a scenario that impairs subscribers' ability to make sound decisions.
TRAI has revised the regulatory standards in this respect, directing telcos to publicize each tariff plan for prepaid and postpaid consumers, service area by service area, within 15 days, and to provide complete information to customers at customer care centers, points of sale, retail stores, webpages, and applications with required disclosures.
The "important disclosures" required by TRAI's order include details on the units/volume of call, internet, and SMS, as well as their prices, use rate restrictions, and speeds beyond the permitted limit.
Telecommunications companies will also be required to tell consumers about upfront costs, including advance rents, deposits, connection fees for postpaid services, and also top up, tariff coupons, and other data.
TRAI noted that "clear, straightforward, and easy-to-understand" notification of the tariff plan's expiration term and also the last date of bill payment is required.
Specific items in the tariff plan must also be disclosed to customers in a clear manner.
Telecommunications companies are now expected to provide comprehensive details of any costs that may be charged on consumers for using the product. TRAI has also ordered telcos to reveal all promised service characteristics, such as data speeds, in unambiguous language.
Also the 'Fair Usage Plan' specifics will need to be conveyed carefully. On similar lines, the government has spelled out important disclosures that must be given in the situation of Special Tariff Vouchers, Combo Vouchers, as well as Add Packs.
TRAI stated that the activity was initiated in response to changes in the structure of pricing strategy over time, which resulted in the prospect that customers may be faced with circumstances of insufficient information, unclear or difficult to find information, impacting their information to make an informed decision.
3. The Call Drop Compensation
In January 2016, TRAI implemented a significant shift in telecommunications that benefited all customers. Users will be reimbursed for call dropouts beginning January 1, 2016.
However, there’s one condition. According to the law, mobile customers will get Re 1 reimbursement for each dropped call, but this will be restricted to a maximum of three dropped calls each day. The Supreme Court overturned this law because it was "unrealistic, capricious, and unconstitutional."
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) was established under the TRAI Act by an ordinance that took effect on January 24, 2000, and took over the adjudicatory and dispute powers from TRAI.
TRAI New Initiatives
Along with new rules and regulations, TRAI has also adopted new initiatives to ensure they’re able to considerably improve and enhance the experience for users.
1. WANI (Wi-Fi Access Network Interface)
TRAI has suggested the WANI (Wi-Fi Access Network Interface) design to enhance broadband penetration in India. If adopted, it might lead to the establishment of Public Data Offices (PDOs) with on-demand Wi-Fi Internet access.
TRAI compares this to PCOs, which were used to make voice calls and were common hotspots before mobile devices or home landlines became the primary means of communication.
2. TRAI Mobile Apps
On June 6, 2017, TRAI released three new applications and a web page to guarantee that Indian customers are properly informed about the telecom services available to them.
Mycall, MySpeed, plus 'Do not disturb (DND 2.0)' applications will now inform and maintain transparency between how much people pay for and what telecom providers promise to give at a particular fee.
TRAI, on December 28, 2018, published a new app named "TRAI CHANNEL SELECTOR." This application can be used to add, delete, and monitor our channels.
TRAI is constantly striving to improve telecommunication services in India, and more often than not, these decisions impact the way consumers make calls, use the internet and consume content for entertainment.
So, it’s a good idea to keep yourself updated with the latest rules and regulations initiated by TRAI to ensure you’re able to leverage them to your benefit.