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Does India Need a Telecom Ombudsman? Trai Wants Your Opinion

Telecom regulator Trai on Thursday sought public opinion on setting up of an ombudsman in the sector, for speedy resolution of rising subscriber complaints over issues such as wrong billing and poor service quality.

Mooting the creation of a telecom ombudsman to sort out customer complaints, Trai, in its latest consultation paper has also sought views on modalities such as legal framework, structure, funding and the type of complaints that should be handled by the sector ombudsman.

Besides this, the powers, functions and responsibilities of such a body would be discussed as part of the consultation paper on ‘Complaints/Grievance Redressal in telecom sector’.

The consultation paper puts a spotlight on the subscribers “filing large number of complaints with the telecom service providers”, the “unsatisfactory resolution of consumer complaints” by the operators and the “dissatisfaction” with the current redressal mechanism.

These, Trai said, are resulting in complaints and grievances being forwarded to Trai and Department of Telecom.

“It is imperative that consumer complaints and public grievances in the telecom space are resolved in a timely, efficient and cost effective manner through a system that is easily available all across the country,” it said adding that in absence of such a system the benefits of telecom revolution will miss the intended target.

Trai has, in effect, revived its 2004 recommendation of establishment of an ombudsman to handle unresolved complaints in the sector – a suggestion which, at that time, had not been favoured by the Government.

In addition, the Trai paper seeks public opinion on issues ranging from changes required to strengthen the existing system, to establishment of separate – independent and empowered – structure to resolve individual subscribers’ complaints.

Last date for submitting views is August 18 and counter comments by August 26

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