"Requests were received in Trai seeking longer validity for data packs (that is Special Tariff Vouchers with only data benefits) primarily to address the concern of marginal consumers of wireless Internet who prefer lower denomination data packs with longer validity," Trai said.
At present, a company can issue recharge voucher, which can be valid for a maximum 90 days. If a consumer fails to use up mobile Internet data purchased through the voucher within the specified period, the unused data lapse.
Trai said the present regulatory regime allows "telecom service providers to offer data services in the form of Special Tariff Voucher (STV) either exclusively or in combination with other tariff items with a maximum permitted validity of 90 days". "After undertaking a consultation process, Trai has notified the 10th amendment to the TCPR (Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations) permitting the
maximum validity of 365 days for data-only STVs instead of prevailing maximum validity of 90 days," it added.
... Will debate revenue-based levies on ISPs for spectrum
Sector regulator Trai on Friday sought public feedback on levying spectrum usage charges linked to annual revenues for Internet service providers, something similar to the norms for mobile companies. The move could potentially push up broadband costs for consumers as ISPs currently pay "formula-based spectrum charges". Trai, in a consultation paper, said service providers with Cellular Mobile Telephone Services and Unified Access Service Licence are assigned spectrum through market-based mechanism (auctions).
They pay spectrum usage charge (SUC) on the basis of percentage of their gross revenue called AGR. "However, there are certain categories of telecom/ broadcast licensees to whom spectrum is assigned administratively and SUC is based on a formula basis. ISPs are among such licensees... present criterion of spectrum allocation to ISPs is city-wise basis, subject to the availability of spectrum," the regulator said.
The discussion paper has sought views on whether there is "a need to introduce SUC based on percentage of AGR for ISPs or should the existing formula based spectrum charges continue". Companies offering Internet services include names like Tikona, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Tata Communications.