Unhappy with your Internet speed and other services that your service provider offers you? Broadband service providers will now be fined if they fail to achieve the Quality of Service (QoS) benchmarks put forth by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The regulatory body issued its '“Quality of Service of Broadband Service (Amendment) Regulations, 2012 (28 of 2012)” citing financial disincentives, earlier this week. By way of these regulations, the TRAI has stated that those Broadband service providers who do not comply with the benchmarks set by TRAI will have to bear financial disincentives at a rate not exceeding Rs 50,000 per parameter for the first time. Any further and the financial disincentives per parameter will rise to Rs 1,00,000. Further, TRAI's regulations also prescribes financial disincentives for false reporting and delayed submission of Quality of Services benchmarks report. 


ISPs to be fined for poor service (Image credit: Getty Images)

It was in October this year that we had first reported about TRAI slapping a fine on broadband service providers failing to meet QoS benchmarks. At the time it had been stated that the new rules would come into effect from January 1, 2013. 

Access service providers (ASPs) were recently permitted to offer combo vouchers, following a directive by the TRAI called ‘The Telecom Consumer Protection (Fourth Amendment) Regulations, 2012’. Earlier, ASPs were allowed to offer three categories of vouchers, namely plan vouchers, top-ups and STVs. Of late, however, several service providers and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) have been demanding that a fourth category of vouchers be included, i.e., combo vouchers. These combo vouchers would make up an additional category of vouchers under the TCPR, offering both monetary value and tariff concessions through a single voucher.

In the same vein, TRAI elaborated in its official notice that combo vouchers will sport a blue colour band while top-up vouchers will sport a green colour one, making them easily distinguishable. 

In its official notice, the TRAI shared that such vouchers offered more flexibility to the service providers to “offer innovative bundling of the products based on market segmentation”. TRAI believes that users will have the convenience to purchasing additional monetary value as well as well as getting the benefit of special tariffs through a single transaction.

TRAI has ensured that top-up vouchers are “clearly distinguishable to subscribers”. Top-up vouchers will be exclusively available in denomination of Rs 10 and its multiples. The combo vouchers will be available only in denominations other than Rs 10 and its multiples. 

Further, to enable consumers to be fully aware of the offer they are subscribing to, the combo vouchers will clearly state its terms and conditions. Service providers too have been directed to specify the availability of standalone top-up vouchers whenever combo vouchers are spoken about at length.

Another end the TRAI is trying to meet is getting rid of the obscene message menace. Recently, the Madras HC directed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to put an end to the menace of obscene messages being sent to harried customers without their consent. In doing so, Justice Chitra Venkataraman of the Madras HC also noted that it was ‘high time’ that the regulator got rid of the problem.

By now, most would know of this issue plaguing cellphone users – receiving obscene messages without consent. The Madras HC acted upon the petition of a certain V S Suresh, who stated that he was using a private service provider two years ago when he received such obscene messages without his consent. He added that despite filing a complaint, the slew of messages continued and he was also charged money for it.   

Suresh then moved to a local court, after the police paid no heed to his complaint. It was only after the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's court directed that the police registered his case, following which an FIR was filed in January last year. Suresh has further alleged that the police took his mobile phone for investigation, which they are yet to return. He added that his petition seeking direction to the authorities to return his mobile phone was also pending. Last year, Suresh sent representatiosn twice to Chairman, TRAI and Telecommunications Secretary seeking action against the service provider, and it is after he got no response from them that he filed the writ petition. 

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