TRAI urged to restore pricing flexibility to telecoms

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Industry body ASSOCHAM has suggested the TRAI to restore the pricing flexibility to licensed telecoms and review of differential pricing regulation.

“Allowing technical and commercial flexibility with a level playing field for all businesses in the Internet value chain, including the telecom operators will promote the goals of broadband connectivity, attract investment and innovation, allowing consumer choice for internet access,” said ASSOCHAM.

TRAI’s policy should encourage variety of business models under its forbearance regime with regulatory oversight, rather than mandating or prohibiting certain practices.

Any proposal for creation of TSP agnostic platform will add an unnecessary additional layer between the content providers, telecoms and the consumers that can result in additional costs and lower efficiencies, no clear ownership for consumer grievances.

The delegation of pricing flexibility from licensed telecoms to a third party platform owner will have additional costs.

Allowing the unregulated third party to provide free data to the exclusion of telecoms may be detrimental to telecoms that heavily invested Infrastructure, enabling Digital platform, thus reducing choice and innovation capabilities of telecoms.

Moreover the TSP agnostic platform could indulge in the gate keeping functions that are being apprehended by the TRAI, difficulty in regulating such platform by TRAI as per the TRAI Act and thereby have no control over such a platform.

“If the TSP agnostic platform is to be regulated, then why a similar platform cannot be offered by TSPs under a similar regulatory framework.  Allowing content providers to adopt these models and provide the service will cause loss of revenue to the exchequer amounting to restrict TSPs right to conduct business,” said ASSOCHAM.

Both European Union Regulations and the United States of America’s Open Internet Rules allow differential pricing subject to certain boundaries, maintaining the net neutrality principle.

TRAI should take a holistic view on the issues relating to OTT services, Net Neutrality, Same Service Same Rules and Differential Pricing and take a de-novo approach to the issue of provisioning free data.

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