Trai urges cos to boost transparency in broadband services

Thursday, Jan 21, 2016

The telecom regulator has urged broadband service providers to make detailed disclosures of their tariff plans, including data download speeds, to boost transparency levels under a new compliance code for transparent delivery of internet and broadband services in the interest of data consumers.

In a draft direction issued Wednesday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has asked fixed broadband operators to share details of tariff plans on their websites, including data usage limits and connection speeds -- both upto the specified usage levels and beyond. It has also urged fixed broadband operators to ensure download speeds do not drop below 512 kbps in any broadband tariff plan.

This, it says, is since the amended definition of `broadband', notified by the telecom department in July, 2013, says `broadband is a data connection that is able to support interactive services, including internet access, and is capable of a minimum download speed of 512 kbps to an individual subscriber'.

Trai has also asked 3G and 4G operators to keep consumers fully in the loop about the specific broadband technology - 3G/4G -- they will be using while accessing data within usage limits, and beyond the threshold. It also wants them to specify data usage limits for 3G and 4G technologies for the benefit of customers.

The sector regulator wants fixed and mobile broadband operators to share such tariff-related information with customers by email and through text messages on their registered mobile numbers. It also wants telcos to alert mobile broadband customers through text messages once they have exhausted 80% of their data usage limits. It also wants fixed broadband service users to be similarly alerted every time they login after data usage exceeds the 80% level.

In a media statement, Trai said it wants broadband service providers to "furnish compliance to the new direction to ensure transparency in delivery of internet and broadband services and to also protect the interest of consumers".

Trai's directive to telecom service providers, calling upon them to share detailed information regarding their broadband tariff plans is part of its `Fair Usage' policy. It also wants fixed and mobile broadband service providers to share the tariff-related information through advertisements in the media.

Trai has sought comments and counter-comments from all industry stakeholders on its new broadband delivery compliance direction by February 1 and 8 respectively.

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