Trai hands mobile users tariff advantage

New Delhi, March 22 | Updated: Mar 23 2006, 05:30am hrs
In a major boost to mobile subscribers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has ruled that operators cannot hike tariffs under the lifetime plans during the entire period of the telecom company's licence.

Order released under chairmanship of former Trai boss Pradip Baijal
COAI mulling making a fresh representation
The order has defined the lifetime period to mean the validity duration of the licence of the service provider
"Hike in tariff is prohibited for any tariff item specified in the lifetime tariff plans during the entire lifelong validity period," a Trai statement issued on late Tuesday evening said. Hence, if a comsumer made an upfront payment for a lifetime plan, the service provider cannot hike tariffs during the entire period even if duties and levies applicable on service provider increase.

The Cellular Operators Association of India had in the past represented to the Trai that in the event of changes like interconnect usage charge regime, other duties and levies the operators be allowed to increase the tariff.

"We are going to again represent to the Trai that in such events tariff hike may be allowed. How can we continue with the same tariff if duties and levies change on the higher side," T V Ramachandran, Director-General, COAI, told FE.

However, former Trai Chairman Pradip Baijal under whom the order was released, said in those cases where the operators have put a rider in their schemes that tariffs can change on the higher side if there's any regulatory change, it will be permitted. However, in the absence of any such clarity in Trai's order, COAI said it would move on with its representation to the Trai.

Another significant aspect of the order is it has defined the lifetime period to mean the validity duration of the licence of the service provider. It has specifically asked the service providers who offer such plans to inform subscribers about the month and the year of the expiry of their current licence.