TRAI issues consultation paper on telecom grievance redressal

Nepal smartphone user image by Sanjaal
Telecom regulator TRAI has issued a consultation paper in order address customer grievances at a faster pace.

With this, the telecom regular is trying to revise a 5-year old guideline.

TRAI wants to know:

# Is establishing an Office of Telecom Ombudsman an option that should be revisited
# What should the legal framework for the creation?
What should be its structure?
How should it be funded?
What types of complaints should it handle?
What should be its powers, functions, duties and responsibilities?
# Is the present complaint redressal mechanism adequate?
# Should the system get additional powers?
# Are there any specific changes that can be made to the existing system to improve it?
# Should India set up a separate structure to resolve telecom sector complaints?

The latest consultation paper is because both the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and TRAI received 38,702 individual complaints till June 2016.

From a subscriber base of around 90 million in March 2006, the number of telecom subscribers in India reached around 1.04 billion by June 2016.

These subscribers filed approximately 10.23 million complaints in the January-March quarter in 2016 with the telecom service providers (TSPs). The complaints were on account of wrong billing, indifferent or poor quality of service, non-provision of contracted services, etc.

TRAI said that it is imperative that consumer complaints and public grievances in the telecom space are resolved in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner through a system that is easily available all across the country.

“Without such a system, benefits of the telecom revolution, which encompasses provision of a variety of services, such as banking, money transfer, govt. services, to the public will miss the intended target,” said TRAI in the consultation paper.

In accordance with the TRAI Act, the authority has from time to time issued regulations specifying the broad framework of the complaint redressal mechanism that all the TSPs should establish and maintain within their organisations.

TRAI issued the first such regulation in 2007. This regulation had a 3-tier grievance redressal system. In 2012, this regulation was reviewed and replaced by a revised 2-tier mechanism with the objective of improving the efficiency and speeding up the complaint resolution process. This 2-tier system has been implemented by all the telecom network operators and is in existence now.

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