Row over Reliance Jio: Consumer interest more important, Trai to Telecom Commission

By: | Published: March 31, 2017 6:06 AM

TRAI has written to the Telecom Commission that 'affordable” mobile tariffs and consumer interest cannot be substituted with “maximisation' of revenue.

Trai says its tariff regime has not just promoted competition in the market, but has also ensured that consumers get the best-priced offers.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has written to the Telecom Commission (TC) that “affordable” mobile tariffs and consumer interest cannot be substituted with “maximisation” of revenue.

Responding to TC’s February 23 advice that the regulator should discharge its duties in proper letter and spirit so that government revenues are protected and the sector’s orderly growth takes place, Trai said its tariff regime has not just promoted competition in the market, but has also ensured that consumers get the best-priced offers.

On review of the tariff regulations, Trai said, “It is widely accepted that consumer interest is critical to good regulation and the same cannot be substituted by revenue maximisation.”

Trai said the National Telecom Policy’s (NTP 2012), key elements include affordable telecom service and consumer interest and not maximisation of government’s revenue.

“It is a well known fact that lower tariffs help in penetration of the telecom services in the rural and remote areas of the country where tele-density still stands at 53.27% compared to urban tele-density of 170.15%,” it added.

Besides, the economic basis of telecom regulation is to maximise “overall economic growth” of the sector as well as increase productivity, it explained.

Stating that tariffs should be reviewed in the light of access and equality, Trai said the government’s Digital India programme’s success also hinges on a “ubiquitous”, “reliable” and “affordable” data connectivity.

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The regulator also said its recommendations asking for reforms like reducing the licence fee from 8% to 6%, making SUC flat to 3% and later to 1%, increasing the duration of deferred payment spectrum amount to 20 years from the current 10 years, were not implemented by the department of telecom (DoT), which is to be blamed for the health of the industry and hence for declining revenues of the government.

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