In a breather to the telecom firms reeling under huge losses, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Monday said that the prevailing call tariffs were not “objectionably” high and good for competitive environment, adding it will continue with the existing tariff regime for the time being which allows operators to decide on the charges to be levied on consumers for mobile services.
Emphasising upon the another important issue — deactivation of inactive mobile connections — it said that the recommendations for the same should be finalised by March.
“The mobile tariffs are competitive. We could not find that tariffs have been in any objectionable territory,” Rajeev Agarwal, secretary, the Trai said.
“In normal course, it (the recommendations) should take one-and-a-half-month more from now,” he added talking about the issue of operators arbitrarily disconnecting mobile phone connections on the ground of non usage of numbers.
After years of severe competition, which had lead to dirt-cheap tariffs being offered, Bharti Airtel had announced a 20-25% hike last year which was followed by all the leading players.
Recently again many firms have hiked data tariffs by 25-30% to improve margins.
In this context, Trai sought views of stakeholders on the need to review the existing regime of tariff forbearance. Views were also sought on a suitable tariff framework for data services.
While deactivation of a SIM without prior intimation and on arbitrary grounds has become an issue of debate as it deprives a subscriber of his mobile number which might have been an identity for him for a long time.
According to a consultation paper floated by TRAI, consumers can also suffer from a potential loss of activity in both personal and professional set-ups causing an adverse impact on livelihood.
Trai also emphasised on another issue of value added services (VAS) which has been troubling common users for a while.
TRAI said it has given directions to operators to refrain from providing VAS service and charge the consumer for that without his consent.
Last year the telecom tribunal had also rejected the telecom operators’ petition against TRAI’s guidelines on VAS which asked operators to take prior confirmation before activating and charging subscribers for such services and asked them to comply with the directive by February 2.
In 2011, TRAI’s directives said that an operator was required to obtain confirmation from their subscribers through SMS, e-mail, fax or in writing within 24 hours of activation of VAS.