TRAI publishes consultation paper on international roaming

27 May 2020

Sector watchdog the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has published a consultation paper on international mobile roaming services, requesting feedback on potential regulatory changes. The paper primarily focuses on the reduction or elimination of bill shocks for subscribers by identifying their specific causes and evaluates the capacity of the current regulatory framework to address the issue as well as the possible need for a revision of that framework. Amongst the issues raised by the paper are: the activation of international roaming, whether the facility should be automatically enabled on every SIM sold or activated only at the user’s request; tariff offerings available and the selection of applicable tariffs – the TRAI notes that some providers ‘have the flexibility to apply [international roaming] packs even when the consumer has not specifically asked for the same before traveling abroad; and consumer protection measures such as SMS alerts for customers when they reach certain thresholds of their allowance or when they arrive in a country not covered by their international roaming pack.

Regarding potential implementation of price regulations for international roaming services, the TRAI was reluctant to consider such an option, citing the ITU as saying that such measures, when carried out unilaterally at a national level, were not very effective. The regulator goes on to state that its preferred approach is to empower consumers by making information more readily available. Further, the TRAI points out that the current regulatory framework does not provide for price regulation of international mobile roaming services, as its forbearance regime instead aims to grant service providers ‘the freedom to design the tariffs suited to the prevailing market conditions’.

The watchdog has requested feedback from industry stakeholders by 23 June, with counter-comments to be submitted by 7 July.