On 1 June 2017, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (“TRAI”) issued the above-mentioned Consultation Paper. TRAI has recognised that with the growing popularity and usage of wireless broadband connections (including those on mobile devices), the number and frequency of customer dissatisfaction reports have also increased. This has largely been caused due to a lack of information and knowledge with the customers, a lack of transparency in the process of obtaining a broadband connection, and the difficulty in switching from one service provider to another in case a customer is dissatisfied with the initial service provider. Thus, in order to increase consumer empowerment and protection, the TRAI is seeking responses to multiple questions such as:
- Whether the information currently being made available to customers is enough to make informed choices and ensure transparency?
- If the information is not sufficient, what further information should be provided by service providers regarding the broadband connections?
- Whether the existing Quality of Service standards/parameters should be added to/deleted?
- Whether any new technology can be implemented in order to collect data regarding end-user experience and issues concerning broadband connections?
Comments on the Consultation Paper can be provided by stakeholders till June 29, 2017.
New Mobile Apps Launched by TRAI
In an attempt to connect further with consumers, to collect data on their user-experiences, and to keep them informed about updates to services, the TRAI has launched some new Mobile applications, freely downloadable by all consumers:
- MyCall App – This Android application allows users to rate all voice calls made/received by them, through a pop-up. The rating is provided on the basis of whether the call was indoors/outdoors/while travelling, whether there was any audio delay, and if the call was dropped.
- MySpeed App – An application already having over a million downloads, this allows consumers to measure the speed of their cellular data via brief, infrequent tests that do not collect any personal data. Consumers also have the option of providing the data to TRAI, so that the regulatory authority is able to gather data on the performance of the ISPs.
- DoNotDisturb App – This application, in addition to allowing users to avoid unsolicited commercial calls/telemarketing calls/SMS’, also has the added functionalities of crowdsourcing data from its users in order to track unregistered telemarketers more efficiently, and to allow users to make and track the progress of complaints within the application.
- Service Providers Portal – This application is developed to help the TRAI in its communications with service providers in the broadcasting and cable sectors (broadcasters, DTH operators, local cable operators etc.). Via this application, the TRAI will be able to educate and keep the above-mentioned service providers updated about the regulatory framework, as well as maintain a consolidated database of all service providers.
Additional Recommendations on Sale/Rent of International Roaming SIM Cards/Global Calling Cards in India
In response to a letter received from the Department of Telecommunications on 10 March 2017, the TRAI published a list of additional recommendations for the sale/rent of International Sim Cards/Global Calling Cards in India, on 14 June 2017. This list of recommendations was published pursuant to a survey conducted by the TRAI with the customers of these SIM Cards, wherein the customers were asked to rate their experiences with their respective service providers. Upon receiving the ratings, and holding a joint meeting with respective service providers to discuss the same, the TRAI has published the following recommendations:
- The Service Providers should create a separate portal for the sale/rent of International Sim Cards, wherein customers can get complete access to information regarding the network coverage of these Sim Cards, a real-time customer complaint monitoring system, and the contacts details of senior executives of the Service Providers
- The purchase of all International Sim Cards/Global Calling Cards should be conducted only via the digital mode – i.e., via net banking, credit/debit cards and e-wallets. The service providers should also collect the bank account information and the PAN and Aadhar card information of the customers.
- There should be a penalty imposed on the service providers for every hour of delay in activation of these Sim Cards beyond the time-limit initially mentioned. Additionally, the service providers will have to refund and compensate the customers (both pre-paid and post-paid) in case the Sim Card does not function as promised, whether in case of poor network coverage, incompatibility of the handsets etc.
- In case the TRAI receives complaints of non-working International Sim Cards from more than 10% of the customers of a service provider in a month, the TRAI can cancel that service providers permission/NOC to provide such International Sim Card.