The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has exempted ISPs with less than 10,000 subscribers in a given financial year from the tariff reporting requirement, through an Amendment to the Telecommunication Tariff Order (TTO) (pdf), 1999.
Additionally, TRAI mentions that existing exemptions extended to various access service providers, with respect to tariff schemes offered to bulk customers in response to a tender or as a result of negotiations between the two parties, will be extended to ISPs as well.
Previously, even small ISPs were required to comply with the reporting requirement, which involved reporting tariffs specified for the first time and all subsequent changes made. The rule made it obligatory for any telecommunication services provider to notify TRAI about tariff changes within seven working days of implementing the changes.
According to TRAI, it would be difficult for small ISPs to violate regulatory principles achieved through tariff reporting in a competitive environment. Additionally, this exemption would help small ISPs in reducing compliance costs, and once they cross 10,000 subscribers they will be required to report tariff.
Exemption from tariff reporting requirement for small ISPs however, will not mean that regulatory principles, guidelines etc would not apply to them, and they will still have to ensure that tariffs they offer are consistent with regulatory requirements.
Currently, small ISPs with subscriber base of less than 10,000 account for only 0.07% of the total subscribers, out of the 25.2 crore internet subscribers in the country. Meanwhile, the top 10 ISPs collectively serve about 97.87% of subscribers. This move by TRAI will make it easier for small ISPs to expand in a market dominated by the top few.