TRAI on Tuesday issued a consultation paper on the metering of telecom services. Metering and billing, which are key to how telecom subscribers’ usage is measured and charged, is regulated under the Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulations, 2006, which was last amended in 2013.

The consultation looks at how, 14 years after the regulations were first published, they can be improved to have better accountability and audit trails.

Here are a summary of the questions that the paper poses.

  • Sampling: How can the sampling of tariff plans that are up for audit be improved? (Right now, sampling is only done for popular plans, and TRAI is asking if this should change.)
  • Automation of error prevention: The regulator asks how “IT tools and new technologies” can be used to prevent errors in tariffing and metering, and whether these same tools can be used to audit compliance with the regulations.
  • Consumer information: TRAI notes that with e-KYC onboarding, customers no longer receive physical receipts with terms and conditions for the service for which they are signing up. The regulator asks what technologies can be used to deliver this information to subscribers.
  • Outdated tariffs: The regulator asks what can be done to make sure that tariffs available for a telco be consistent across all platforms where they are listed.
  • Billing complaints: TRAI asks if “billing complaints” should be redefined to bring greater uniformity and auditing of these complaints should be held more regularly. The regulator also asked what can be done to make sure records are maintained long enough to be surfaced during audits.
  • Penalties: The regulator asks if penalties for not providing audit reports or action-taken reports under the regulations should be reviewed.

The deadline for the consultation is September 29, and the deadline for counter-comments is October 13.