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Saturday, October 3, 2020

TRAI issued new regulations to protect consumers activating international mobile roaming services from bill shocks

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) - the regulator in the telecommunication sector in India - has issued telecom consumers protection (eleventh amendment) regulations 2020 (07 of 2020) dated the 30th September 2020. 

TRAI issued new regulations to protect consumers activating international mobile roaming services from bill shocks

TRAI regularly issues orders and directions on subjects such as tariffs, interconnections, quality of service, Direct To Home (DTH) services and mobile number portability. One of the main objectives of TRAI is to provide a fair and transparent environment that promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition in the telecom market in the country. TRAI's latest amendment on international mobile roaming services is another step in empowering the consumer and ensuring protection of consumers from bill shocks.
TRAI has released this latest amendment after receiving inputs from stakeholders and after conducting open house discussions through online video conferencing platforms. TRAI has inserted a new chapter (Chapter VI) in regulation 9 of the Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations 2012. The new chapter is named as - 'Measures to protect consumers from bill shocks while using international mobile roaming service'.

International Mobile Roaming (IMR) which allows customer of a mobile operator in one country to obtain service (Voice, SMS or Data) from an operator  in another country using the same handset and mobile number which is characterised by significant instances of bill shocks. Hence the regulator has decided to bring new regulations which will give more information to consumers regarding selection of tariff, data usage, availing service in an area which are not covered under tariff etc. Major directions in this new amendment are given below: - 

International Mobile Roaming service should be activated only on request from consumers
Every service provider shall ensure that the international mobile roaming service is inactive by default for all consumers and shall be activated only on the request of a consumer and once activated, it may be deactivated at any time on the request of the consumerProvided that in case of existing consumers, specific choice of every consumer to continue with or to discontinue the activated international mobile roaming service, if applicable, may be obtained through SMS, email or mobile application, if available within thirty days from the date of publication of these regulations.

Information to consumers on activation of international mobile roaming service
Every service provider shall, immediately on activation of international mobile roaming service, provide to the consumer, through SMS, email and mobile application, if available, the following information:- (i) the fact of activation of international mobile roaming service; and (ii) the applicable tariff (if any) for the activation of international mobile roaming service (one-time charges as well as recurring charges as may be applicable).


Information to consumers on selection of tariff 
Every service provider shall, immediately on selection of a tariff for availing international mobile roaming service for visiting country(ies), provide to the consumer through SMS, email and mobile application, if available, the following information:- (i) the applicable rates for provision of voice, SMS and data services while roaming internationally; and (ii) the details of specific carriers (visiting country operators) required to be selected, if applicable, for availing the agreed tariff and consequences of any failure in this regard; and (iii) a list of actions to be performed by the consumer to avoid bill shocks while using international mobile roaming service; and (iv) the details of consumer protection policies in place for protecting the consumer from bill shocks while using international mobile roaming service: or (v) an URL to the relevant details as in (i) to (iv) above from which printable and saveable file (s) can be accessed and downloaded. 

Information to consumer as soon as the mobile equipment is switched on by the consumer in the visiting country
Every service provider shall, immediately after the consumer switches on his mobile equipment in the visiting country, (a) provide to the consumer all the information and in the manner as specified in regulation 19; (b) alert and advise the consumer, through SMS, in case the consumer has not subscribed to any specific International Mobile Roaming Tariff Pack offered by the service provider, regarding the possibility of incurring significantly high charges due to usage of voice, SMS or data services at standard rates.

Information to consumers at different stages of exhaustion of entitled data usage while roaming internationally as per the selected tariff
Every service provider shall, through SMS, email and mobile application, if available, provide an alert, when the data usage exceeds fifty per cent, eighty per cent, ninety per cent and one hundred per cent of the data entitlement.


Information to the consumer who may initiate use of international mobile roaming service in a country or area not covered by the tariff subscribed or where the applicable tariff differs from the subscribed tariff
Every service provider shall, in case a consumer initiates use of international mobile roaming service in a country or area not covered by the tariff subscribed or where the applicable tariff differs from the subscribed tariff, through SMS, email and mobile application, if available, (a) inform the consumer of the fact of movement in a zone which is not covered under the opted tariff; (b) alert and advise the consumer regarding the possibility of incurring significantly high charges due to usage of voice, SMS or data services at standard rates; and (c) Provide the consumer, details of tariff applicable in such uncovered zone.

Establishment of facility for providing information about the account of the consumer while roaming internationally
Every service provider shall, establish or allot a separate toll free short code to enable the consumers to seek, through SMS, while roaming internationally, the following information:- (i) the applicable tariff for international mobile roaming service; and (ii) the amount billed or charged to the account of the consumer, for international mobile roaming service.


Dear readers, please share your views and opinions about this latest TRAI regulation via comments with us. How many you have received bill shock after availed international mobile roaming services?

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