The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released the Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulations, 2023.
TRAI had earlier initiated a public consultation on review of the regulation, under which draft regulations, and guidelines on “Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulations, 2023” were released in February 2023, inviting comments from the stakeholders by May 1, 2023. An open house discussion (OHD) was also held with the stakeholders in July 2023. Based on the comments received from the stakeholders, discussions held during the OHD, subsequent discussions with telecom service providers, interactions with empaneled auditors and analysis thereof, TRAI has finalised and released the Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulations, 2023.
Under the new regulations, each licensed service area (LSA) shall be audited only once in a financial year, unlike four times as per old regulations, thereby reducing the audit burden by almost 75 per cent. However, while simplifying the audit process, it is also ensured to cover maximum tariff offerings under audit, unlike in previous regulation which has the provision for audit of 15 most popular tariff offerings only leaving aside a good number of tariff offerings with less number of subscriptions. The new regulation shall now cover critical tariff offerings related to international roaming, even with a low subscriber base. Further, the new regulations put an emphasis on refunding of maximum amount in a definite time frame, which have been overcharged from consumers. To discourage overcharging provisions have been made to introduce upfront financial disincentive (FD) as a percentage of the total overcharged amount from all similarly placed consumers, if detected during the audit.
For smooth compliance with regulatory provisions and to facilitate ease of doing business, TRAI has also accepted some of the major requests of the service providers which include the deletion of provisions related to self-evaluation by service providers before the start of the audit by the auditor; giving flexibility to service provider in the selection of LSAs to be audited in each quarter; enhancing the time limit to 30 days for providing the raw call detail records (CDRs) to the auditor from 15 days proposed in the draft regulations; introduction of graded FD instead of flat rate-based FD; and modification in retention period for audit records etc.
Following the new regulations, the earlier regulations namely Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulation, 2006, and its amendments issued on March 25, 2013 stand repealed.