The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released the “Draft Regulation on Review of the Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulations, 2023” and draft guidelines for this regulation.
According to TRAI, the accuracy of metering and billing of telecom services has been a prime focus of the regulator to protect the interest of consumers. In this regard, TRAI had notified the Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulation, 2006, in March 2006. These regulations contain a code of practice for metering and billing accuracy which is to be complied by all basic service providers, unified access service providers and cellular mobile telephone service providers. The amendment to the Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulation, 2006, was issued in March 2013.
Over time, telecom networks have undergone significant changes, and many new services are offered by telecom service providers. Additionally, tariffs against the services offered have also undergone significant changes, especially after the introduction of unlimited data or voice plans with fixed tariffs on a daily/monthly/yearly basis. All these new tariff offerings provide unlimited usage with certain limits under fair usage policy, thereby shifting focus from itemised billing to committed volume of data or voice or SMS on daily basis or till the expiry of validity of the subscribed tariff offering.
Further, new IP-based networks such as long-term evolution (LTE)/5G technologies, carrying voice over data have now shifted billing from per second/minute-based billing to data volume based billing. Accordingly, service providers are expected to have advanced, robust and scalable IT products for accurate billing of various services being offered to consumers.
In view of the above, TRAI undertook a public consultation, by releasing a consultation paper on “Review of The Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulations, 2006” in September 2020. All inputs/comments received by stakeholders have been considered by the authority while finalising these draft regulations and guidelines. However, before issuing final regulations by repealing previous regulations and their amendments on the subject, TRAI has decided to put forward draft regulations and guidelines in the public domain for consideration of the stakeholders and offer further comments, if any. Written comments on draft regulations and guidelines are invited from the stakeholders by March 17, 2023.