Trai may revisit decision not to regulate tariffs: RS Sharma

MUMBAI: The telecom regulator mentioned it could rethink its determination to not regulate tariffs, following requests from all operators, though it could ideally choose to steer clear of intervening in worth plans.

“It is only recently that the telecom companies have together written to us that regulate us, so it’s for the first time,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman RS Sharma mentioned at an occasion on Thursday.

“In 2012, I remember they had opposed tooth and nail the Trai’s proposal to regulate tariffs. They said tariffs must be left under forebearance.” The three non-public telcos – Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea – had written to Trai by way of an business affiliation, urging it to set a flooring worth for information to enhance the well being of the sector, burdened by debt and extra liabilities within the type of statutory dues after India’s prime courtroom upheld a wider definition of adjusted gross income.

Highlighting the change within the stance of the telcos, the Trai chairman mentioned in 2017, when the operators had been consulted, “all of them came to the conclusion that floor price is a bad idea, so regulatory intervention is not required.”

“And again they have said a couple of weeks back, so we will have to consider what to do,” he mentioned. “… ideally we would not like to put any regulation if the market is functioning in an efficient and fair manner – that is our broad principle. So, achieving the objective without doing anything is the best,” Sharma mentioned.

The Cellular Operators Association of India knowledgeable Trai this month that every one telcos are on board on regulating information costs.

“Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea are in full settlement that Trai be requested to control tariffs by setting flooring worth for information services,” affiliation director common Rajan S Mathews mentioned in a letter to the regulator dated December 3, 2019. The telcos need name charges to stay unchanged.

Sharma reiterated on Thursday that the regulator’s duties are to make sure client safety, honest competitors and development. Trai intervenes solely when operators request it to step in, he mentioned.

“If there are certain market failures, if there are certain aberrations, if one of the objectives – for example, consumer protection – is not being met, then obviously we will have to think of ways to ensure that these objectives are met,” he mentioned.

The sector is combating Rs 7 lakh crore of debt and the Supreme Court’s order of October requiring telecom licence holders to pay adjusted gross income dues of Rs 1.47 lakh crore. After the SC’s rulings, the three operators elevated tariffs by as much as 50% – for the primary time for the reason that entry of Jio in September 2016 triggered a worth conflict.

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