Free Press Journal

Consumers have right to be compensated for call drops: TRAI



New Delhi: Consumers have the right to get compensated for call drops and this was different from the quality of service guidelines that cellular service providers have to follow under the licence conditions, TRAI told Delhi High Court today.

The telecom companies on the other hand submitted before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath that even if consumers were facing a problem, a regulation without statutory backing cannot be created.

The telcos claimed that everyone was prejudiced against them, while referring to some of the pleas filed by consumer groups in support of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) October 16, 2015, regulation which mandates cellular operators to pay consumers one rupee per call drop experienced on their networks, subject to a cap of Rs 3 a day.

Supporting the regulation, the consumer groups said that the compensation was “societal compensation” and should not be taken away.

After hearing the final arguments of all the parties, the court reserved its judgement on the petition of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) and 21 telecom operators.

TRAI had earlier termed the call drops as a “pervasive problem”, saying it amounted to “harassment” of consumers as well as breach of contract that telcos had with subscribers. The service providers on the other hand had contended that TRAI’s call drop compensation regulation was a “knee-jerk reaction” which penalised them without proving any wrong-doing.

The telcos termed the regulation as “arbitrary and whimsical” and contended that providing compensation to the consumers amounted to interfering with the companies’ tariff structure and this could be done only by an order and not a regulation.