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Consumers’ consent ought to be must for activating data: Trai

Telecom regulator TRAI on Wednesday proposed that service providers should take explicit consent of consumers through toll free short code 1925 for activating data services, a move aimed at addressing users complaints regarding data usage.

“It is proposed that data services should be activated or deactivated only with the explicit consent of the subscriber through toll free short code 1925, following the prescribed procedures for obtaining explicit consent of the consumer and for deactivation data,” TRAI said. The Authority has released the draft ‘Telecom Consumers Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015’ and is seeking comments of stakeholders. The last date to send comments is May 12. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said service providers should inform mobile subscribers, who have taken data packs, through SMS or USSD whenever the limit of data usage reaches 50 per cent, 90 per cent and 100 per cent. It said when the usage reaches 90 per cent of the limit, information about the applicable tariff beyond the data limit shall also to be communicated. 

“It is proposed to mandate the service providers to provide the mobile subscriber, who has taken data connection through data packs or through tariff plan with discounted tariff upto certain limit, an alert through SMS or USSD, whenever the limit of data usage reaches 50%, 90% and 100% of data limit,” TRAI said. For those who have subscribed to data connection other than through data packs, it is proposed to mandate the service providers to provide information, through SMS or USSD about quantum of data used and the tariff thereof after every 5000 kilobytes of data usage, the regulator said.

The Authority also said customers should also be informed through SMS at periodic interval, not exceeding six months, about the prescribed procedure for deactivation of data. TRAI said it has been receiving several complaints from consumers regarding non-availability of information relating to the amount of data used during a data session. The service providers offer concessional tariff for data, upto a certain limit, through special tariff vouchers or data packs and also through certain tariff plans.

“As generally, the tariff for any usage beyond specified limit is substantially higher, in case the customer does not know about reaching the limit for concessional tariff, it results in substantial charges levied, leading to sudden bill shock or unexpected deduction of balance amount,” TRAI said. 
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