TRAI introduces new consumer protection rules

10 Aug 2015

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued new regulations requiring operators to inform customers about their data usage and obliging telcos to acquire the explicit consent of users before activating data services. The TRAI noted that it had received numerous complaints from customers on the lack of transparency regarding their data use, resulting in customers exceeding their limit (where applicable) and incurring additional charges and fees. Further, the TRAI reported that it had received complaints over the activation of internet services on mobiles without the consent of the subscriber, again leading to additional data usage and charges.

The new rules, dubbed ‘Telecom Consumers Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015,’ introduce the following requirements with effect from 1 November 2015:

• Operators must inform customers of mobile data services, except users of special data packs, after every 10MB of consumption, with the option to opt-out if they do not wish to receive the information.

• Operators must inform customers using special data service packs when their usage reaches 50%, 90% and 100% of their package, or when their remaining data allowance reaches 500MB, 100MB and 10MB. Further, when users reach the 90%/10MB threshold, they must be informed of the applicable charges after exhausting their limit.

• Operators must caution customers roaming internationally to deactivate their data service.

In addition, operators have until 1 September 2015 to implement the following measures:

• Data services should be activated only with the explicit consent of the subscriber through a toll-free short code 1925. The data services could be deactivated through the toll-free short code 1925.

• Data services through special tariff vouchers, combo vouchers or add-on packs will be deemed to have been activated with consent until the expiry of the validity period of the voucher/pack, or on the consumption of the entire data allowance, whichever is earlier.

• Customers should be informed through SMS at periodic intervals about the procedure for deactivation of data services.