India’s telecom regulator TRAI is looking to set up an independent complaint/grievance resolution body or an ‘ombudsman’ for the telecom industry, in order to “address consumer complaints more efficiently”. The regulator has issued recommendations (pdf) to renovate the existing grievance redressal mechanism into a three-tier approach: i) Telecom operators will address consumer complaints and provide the first resolution. ii) If the consumer isn’t satisfied, then he/she can approach the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CRGF) set up across each service area or state levels. The CRFG will look into the complaint using “technical expertise…and carry out technical analysis” for settling disputes and complaints. Consumers can file complaints with the CRGF using web-portal, email or other online means. iii) If the consumer still hasn't received a suitable resolution, he/she can approach the telecom ombudsman office who will examine the complaint and the telecom operator’s resolution provided. A final order/settlement/compensation will be provided after this and the order shall be considered final and binding on both telcos and consumers. Jurisdiction powers of the telecom ombudsman The independent ombudsman will have powers only to handle complaints regarding delivery of telecom services and “matters like administrative issues, matters of telecom policy, setting of tariff etc” will be outside the jurisdiction of the ombudsman, TRAI said in its recommendation. TRAI also examined the need to provide a legal framework for the ombudsman office by either amending an existing law (in telecom) or through amending license conditions in licenses provided to telecom companies and ISPs. Apart from this,…
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