India’s telecom regulator TRAI has proposed a fine of Rs 5000 payable to customers of Global SIM operators (like Matrix Cellular and UniConnect), if a user’s connection experiences patchy/poor network coverage, non-activation issues or due to any other reason that are “beyond the control of the customer”. This is applicable to both prepaid and postpaid Global SIMs; TRAI has also included the issue of “incompatibility of handsets” as another reason for the Rs 5000 penalty payable directly to customers. Note that the new penalty structure is in addition to already existing compensation structure for users of Global SIM providers. In 2014, DoT mandated a penalty of Rs.500 per hour for “delay in activation of SIM/calling card beyond the time limit” promised at the time of purchase. TRAI also said that it would cancel No Objection Certificate (NOC) issued to Global SIM companies if more than 10% of the SIMs sold (monthly) turn out to be “non-working”. Why TRAI is proposing hefty fines on Global telecom providers Global SIM card companies have tie-ups with multiple carriers in countries they operate in, and ride on top of the host provider’s spectrum to provide calling/data services to customers—something like an International Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) operator. The main aim of such providers is to reduce international roaming costs incurred when users travel outside their country. But TRAI has pointed out in its notification that there has been a surge in the number of complaints placed against such Global operators. Complaints vary from overcharging,…
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