TRAI seeks opinion on having ombudsman for telecom sector

Consultation paper floated with a view to resolve complaints as telecom subscribers in India reach 1.04 billion

GN Bureau | July 28, 2016


#consultation paper   #ombudsman   #TRAI   #telecom subscribers  


 “Should a separate, independent and appropriately empowered structure to resolve telecom sector complaints and grievance be established?” asked Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its latest consultation paper floated on Thursday.

According to TRAI, number of telecom subscribers in the country has reached around 1.04 billion by June 2016. Number of complaints the subscribers had filed during the period of January to March 2016 is approximately 10.23 million, it added.
 
Noting that the regulator doesn’t have power to take individual complaints, and questioning the current complaint redressal mechanism, TRAI sought public view on whether the telecom industry needs an independent body or an ombudsman, having legal powers, to whom consumers can bring their grievances.
 
TRAI says, “Their (ombudsman) decisions are binding on the service providers. They have the powers to award compensation. They step in when consumers exhaust the complaint redressal procedure of the service providers. They prefer to play the role of a mediator and strive to find an amicable settlement between the consumer and the provider. An award following the due process is passed only when such conciliatory efforts fail.”
 
Currently banking and insurance sectors of India are having ombudsmen.
 
The last date to submit comments is on August 18 and counter-comments can be submitted by August 26.
 
Questions raised by TRAI in its consultation papers are:
Q1: Is the complaint redressal mechanism, as presently existing, adequate or is there a need to strengthen it?
Q2: Are there any specific changes that can be made to the existing system to improve it?
Q3: Should a separate - independent and appropriately empowered - structure to resolve telecom sector complaints and grievances be established?
Q4: If yes, please comment with regard to the organization; its structure; kinds of complaints to be handled and its powers?
Q5: Is establishing an Office of Telecom Ombudsman an option that should be revisited, especially given the experience of the past few years of increasing numbers of complaints?
 
Q6: If yes, how should it be created – the legal framework? What should be its structure? How should it be funded? What types of complaints should it handle? What should be its powers, functions, duties and responsibilities?
 

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