TRAI wants telecoms to share data usage info with subscribers

China smartphone user

TRAI or the Telecom Regularoty Authority of India today said Indian telecom service providers should share data usage related information with their subscribers on regular basis.

Indian telecoms such as Vodafone India, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Tata Docomo, Aircel, Uninor, MTS India, Videocon Telecom, MTNL and BSNL must issue notices in form of USSD or SMS about data usage to its customers, TRAI said in its Telecom Consumers Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015.

TRAI said it received several complaints from mobile Internet 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, up to a certain limit, through Special Tariff Vouchers or Combo Vouchers (data packs), add on packs and also through certain tariff plans. The tariff for any usage beyond the specified limit is substantially higher.

Mobile network operators now need to send information about the usage to data users at every 10 MB of data consumption except customers opting for special schemes like add-on packs, combo offers and others. The consumers are to be provided with an option to opt out if they do not desire to receive such information.

For customers using special data packs, the operator has to compulsorily inform the customer whenever the limit of data usage reaches 50 percent, 90 percent and full exhaustion of the allotted data limit.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also ordered the operators to intimate customers when the data balance available in the account reaches 500 MB, 100 MB and 10MB.

Further the consumer shall be informed about the details of tariff applicable after exhausting the data limit, when the data limit reaches 90 percent or the data balance available in the account reaches 10MB, said TRAI in a note issued on Friday.

Telecom operators also need to send an alert to international roaming customer cautioning the person to deactivate data service if one does not intend to use data services.

TRAI ordered the service providers to implement the same by November 1 this year.

The regulator further said data services should be activated only with the explicit consent of the subscriber through a toll free short code – 1925. The same short code can be used to deactivate the data services as well.

“Data services through Special Tariff Voucher or Combo Voucher or add-on pack will be deemed to have been activated with consent till the expiry of the validity period of the voucher/pack or on the consumption of entire data, whichever is earlier,” said the TRAI notification.

Additionally, the mobile customers also needs to be informed through SMS at periodic intervals about the prescribed procedure for deactivation of data. Telecoms will get time till 1 September 2015 to implement the new directive on mobile Internet from TRAI.