TRAI guidelines on international roaming providers

International roaming
TRAI has come out with its recommendations to guide international SIM cards and global calling cards companies.

The Indian telecom regulator says international SIM cards and global calling cards companies must provide itemized bill to customers within 10 days of the date of the journey’s end.

TRAI submitted its “recommendations on sale or rent of international roaming SIM cards or global calling cards in India”, following wide-spread complaints on billing issues from several customers in India.

Majority of complaints are related to hefty charges levied on customers for accessing data services in the foreign land.

“If the journey is undertaken for a period exceeding 30 days, then companies can generate itemized bill in 30 days cycle from the date of the commencement of the journey and provided to customer within 10 days.

International SIM cards and global calling cards provide an option to the mobile users to avail mobile services outside the country without having to pay premium roaming rates.

At present, the prepaid international calling card is sold in over 185 countries. In India, such service providers are required to take a no objection certificate (NOC) from the department of telecom (DoT). The DoT has granted NOC to 38 firms for offering sale or rent of international SIM cards and global calling cards as on April 17, 2015.

TRAI stated that it has not been monitoring these services as these firms do not fall under the ambit of TRAI Act, 1997, but recommended: The holder of NOC for sale and rent of international SIM cards should be answerable to TRAI. The terms and conditions of NOC should be suitably modified to make the firms providing sale and rent of global or country specific SIM cards responsive to TRAI by adding a clause.

Customers had refuted the claims made by the operator and denied having accessed the data services. Since TRAI Act only mandates to regulate the services provided by a licensee, the authority, in the interest of the consumers, decided to undertake an examination of the mode of delivery of services, consumer grievances and its redressal by such firms and make recommendations to the government to ensure their orderly functioning.

The customer should be given the option by the firm to choose a data service or a voice service or combination of both.

It added that in respect of a postpaid connection, there shall be a credit limit which may be fixed as per the customers requirement and customer be transparently informed of the same.

Companies need to inform the customer informed through SMS/USSD message upon reaching 70 percent of the credit limit. If the credit limit is breached, the services should be barred till such time the customer deposits the necessary amount with the operator.

TRAI said billing and consumer redressal mechanism of the NOC holder should be strengthened to enable time bound resolution of billing grievance by the operator within a period of 30 days.