With telecom operators already feeling the heat on tariff front in the backdrop of fierce competition and 3 expansion costs, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has advised regulator TRAI to stay away from fixing tariff
"The consumer groups contend that TRAI should frame tariff. This tribunal is, however, of the opinion that TRAI having prescribed forbearance [operators are free to fix tariffs], no direction at this stage should be issued," said a TDSAT Bench headed by its Chairman Justice SB Sinha.
However, TDSAT said that the regulator must take steps to make consumers aware of their rights.
The tribunal also said, "In the event the TRAI determines that there would be only one [tariff] plan, the scope of multiplicity of plans would become non-existent."
It further said, "We have noticed that the consultative process is over. It is expected that the TRAI would take a decision one way or the other at an early date and possibly within a month or so. Only in the event, certain deficiencies are found out, the question of examining the same by this tribunal would arise."
The issues raised by consumer groups by and large are covered by the consultation papers and draft regulations circulated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and, thus, require no further consideration at this stage.
The tribunal''s remarks came on two petitions filed by Telecom Users Group of India and an individual.
They have requested the tribunal to direct TRAI to fix the tariff and to regulate the pre-paid services. According to them, there were several complex tariff structures floated by the service providers and TRAI should rationalise it to a few plans only.
According to the organisations, TRAI permits 25 tariff plans for each of the operators. VAS (Internet Data) was not regulated by the TRAI and electronic recharge does not have any transparency as the consumers are not informed as to the bill given by them while recharging, they said.
However, it was opposed by TRAI by saying that it was incorrect that it had not been performing its duties in terms of the tariff orders. So far, as latest increase of 20% hike, it has already sought for justifications from the operators, said TRAI.
"So far as a complex tariffs issue is concerned, the numbers of plans are only 27 for GSM operators and 12 for CDMA operators and, thus, it is incorrect to contend that as many as 125 plans are in circulation," TRAI had said.