Auto-roaming: Cell Cos May Not Comply With Trai Directive

New Delhi: | Updated: Sep 19 2003, 05:30am hrs
Cellular operators are not likely to abide by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indias (Trai) directive asking the operators to take the consent of pre-paid subscribers before activating auto-roaming.

Pointing out that adhering to the directive will be difficult, cellular operators said they plan to meet Trai next week and have sought an appointment for the same. On September 15, Trai had asked operators to take customer permission before charging for automated-roaming.

Some private cellular operators had started charging for automated roaming service to pre-paid subscribers after providing the same service free of charge for a few months.

In a letter written to Trai, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has said, It would be extremely difficult for our members to comply with the directives of the Trai within the stipulated deadline, as there are several serious aspects that must be taken into consideration in this regard.

Said a cellular industry official, With increased subscriber base, it is impractical for us to implement interactive voice response system (IVRS)-based roaming services. IVRS-based service doesnt always work completely. It may however be recalled that cellular operators did provide the service based on IVRS until about a few months ago.

Trai had asked operators to discontinue charging for auto-roaming facility without subscribers consent with immediate effect and provide it only to those pre-paid customers who opt for it.

The authority had directed them to discontinue the practice within five days.

The operators feel that customers have a choice to switch off their mobile phones before going out of their circle area.

Trai said that pre-activated auto-roaming facility might lead to a situation where even those subscribers who do not want to avail the service will end up paying activation fee for roaming. Supplementary services had financial implications for subscribers and hence, their consent was essential, Trai had pointed out.