Can telecom companies charge for ‘free’ video services?

NEW DELHI: Can your mobile operator discontinue the free subscription affords to film and music streaming companies if it decides to revise your bundled tariff plan?

Regulator Trai is taking a severe view of this and plenty of different client points as a part of efforts to drive in transparency in tariffs supplied by mobile operators to their subscribers, particularly in view of rising client complaints about deceptive data in telecom adverts.

The regulator issued a session paper on ‘Transparency in Publishing of Tariff Offers’, and the primary intention of the paper – to which preliminary feedback are sought by December 26 – is to broaden the buyer disclosures that corporations make whereas pitching plans available in the market.

“… the Authority has been intermittently receiving a significant number of complaints from individual consumers which though varied can be said to be rooted in lack of transparency in disclosure of tariff information,” Trai stated, including that the extent and nature of complaints “also point to the inadequacy of existing regulatory framework.”

Among the varied points that Trai is trying into, a key space pertains to provision of non-telecom companies which might be presently bundled freed from price inside many plans, however could also be cancelled if the operator decides to discontinue the scheme. For instance, a free one-year subscription of Amazon Prime might stand cancelled if the operator decides to vary/cancel the tariff plan after six months, the minimal interval required for any tariff plan.

“Many complaints have been received regarding the charges being imposed on the customers after the free subscription period (if offered) of such service to customers is over … If the tariff plan offers a free subscription of certain service for a period exceeding six months and the service provider proposes to change the tariff or discontinues the tariff plan after six months, the subscriber runs the risk of losing the remaining free subscription period if he does not agree to the revised tariff or exercise option to migrate to the plan offered. How such situations will be handled is another important informational requirement to ensure protection of consumer interest.”

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