In the first ever round-table conference with consumers, Telecom Minister Kapil Sabil on Tuesday heard their grievances, including mobile number portability, activation of value-added services and its charges and gave them assurance to resolve them as soon as possible.
“This is the first time the Ministry is holding a round-table conference with consumers to hear their grievances. I urge service providers to ensure consumers get a fair treatment, value for their money and speedy settlement of their problems,” Sibal said in New Delhi.Telecom Users Group of India, a non-profit consumer organisation, suggested Telecom Minister to put in place a single tariff plan for all pre-paid mobile consumers and make SMS charges on par with voice call charges (1 paisa per second).
They also suggested to bring all value-added services (VAS) like SMSes, MMSes and data under the ambit of regulation and asked Trai to discontinue the practice of forbearance, besides examining tariffs reasonableness.
On mobile number portability issue, the consumer forum suggested creation of a monitoring cell to check online grievances of consumers and take punitive action against errant operators violating telecom regulations.
On VAS issue, they urged Sibal to allow such services on the consent of the consumers, not on default basis.
On tariff front, the consumer forum asked the ministry to bring in transparency and one-tariff plan for pre-paid consumers which represented 96 per cent of mobile users.
The round-table conference is in line with the proposed New Telecom Policy, 2011 announced by Sibal this year.
On Monday, Trai had issued two draft regulations on protecting consumer interest and redressal of complaints, a move aimed at empowering over 860 million telecom consumers in the country.
The drafts focus on issues like effective grievance redressal system, review of consumer centric quality of service parameters, metering and billing audit and providing information to prepaid consumers, among others.
As part of the drafts, telecom operators would be able to offer only three categories of vouchers — Plan Voucher, Top Up Voucher and Special Tariff Voucher — which would have colour bands for easy identification.