In a move that will bring relief to prepaid mobile customers using top-ups of low denominations, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued the 53rd amendment to the Telecommunication Tariff order (TTO), 1999. By way of this amendment, the regulatory body aims to rationalise the structure of the processing fee pertaining to both talktime top-ups and tariffs levied on premium services.

According to the amendment, the processing fee levied on top-up vouchers shall not exceed 10 percent of Maximum Retail Price (MRP) or Rs 3, whichever is less. The ceiling on processing fee currently stands at Rs 3 for top-up denominations of Rs 20 and above, and Rs 2 for those below Rs 20. 

The 51st amendment to the TTO specified ceiling tariffs for calls made and SMSes sent to participate in contests, competitions, and voting. “Keeping in view the difficulties in implementing the ceiling tariff and feedback received during the consultation process, the Authority has decided to keep the tariff for such services under forbearance,” reads a statement issued by the TRAI. 

Hoping for better services (Image credit: Getty Images)

New amendment rationalises processing fee structure (Image credit: Getty Images)

The TRAI recently attempted to address the menace of missed calls (wangiri calls) and scam calls to prepaid users in the country from international numbers, pertaining to winning prizes or lottery. The body further noted that these calls were often from premium numbers, which charged high tariffs. In an official release, the TRAI issued a directive to all Access Service Providers (ASPs) providing the ISD facility to prepaid mobile users. As per the directive, the ASPs were required to ensure that ISD facility is not activated on prepaid SIM cards without the consent of the consumer. Prepaid consumers having ISD facility were to be informed via SMS within 10 days that the ISD facility to them shall be discontinued after 60 days. If such consumers wished to continue using the facility, they needed to give their explicit consent to avail it within 60 days of receiving the notification SMS. An advisory was to be issued to consumers via SMS at periodic intervals

In September, the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) came forth in response to this attempt of the TRAI to curb the menace of missed calls. COAI approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) with a plea challenging the TRAI on this issue. A TDSAT bench comprising its head, Chairman Justice S B Sinha, admitted the plea. A hearing is now scheduled for October 8. 

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