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TRAI issues consultation paper to tackle mobile bill shock during international travel

The regulator has asked whether IMR service should remain inactive by default while roaming in a foreign country, unless a user selects a tariff plan. This will protect the user from background apps that may be using data, and also force the user to go through detailed tariffs offers and make an informed decision whenever a mobile phone is switched on in a foreign network.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: May 26, 2020, 09.23 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday issued a consultation paper to discuss regulations for protection of consumers against bill shock while using international mobile roaming (IMR) services.

The regulator has asked whether IMR service should remain inactive by default while roaming in a foreign country, unless a user selects a tariff plan.

This will protect the user from background apps that may be using data, and also force the user to go through detailed tariffs offers and make an informed decision whenever a mobile phone is switched on in a foreign network.

The consultation paper also said the huge disparity between the price of standard rates and IR packs needs a review.

Telecom operators, for instance, offer standard rate of Rs 180 per minute for making a call from USA to India, whereas the one-day pack with unlimited incoming calls and 100 minutes of calls to India is being offered at Rs 575.

While IR packs offers a cheaper alternative they are rigid in terms of time period such as 1 day, 7 days and 30 days. This means a user “desirous of availing the IMR Services for a different period must bear the disproportionate burden”, Trai said.

“From TSP (telecom service provider) perspective, there is no strong commercial logic behind the distinction between standard rates and IR packs; and, therefore, the aforesaid distinction...may purely be functioning just as a bill-shock trap,” it said.

The regulator has asked industry stakeholders if IR packs presently offered for one day duration be used to subscribe for multiple days to avail IMR Service.

Trai has also asked why users shouldn't be charged on 24-hour format on first activating voice/data/SMS service rather than on calendar day basis.

Should service providers be mandated to send updates in respect of the data usage exceeding certain pre-established milestones such as 50%, 80%, 90% and 100% of the data entitlement, Trai asked.

Other issues for consultation include mandating telcos to inform the subscriber by SMS every time the subscriber lands in a country/area not covered by the IR pack subscribed and if mobile data should be kept inactive until directed by the user.

The closing date for receiving comments on the paper is June 23 and the last day for counter-comments is July 7.

(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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