Aiming to address customer grievances at a faster pace, the telecom regulator on Thursday issued a consultation paper where it sought opinions from stakeholders on whether setting up an ombudsman will help in the redressal mechanism.
“Is establishing an Office of Telecom Ombudsman an option that should be revisited, especially given the experience of the past few years of increasing numbers of complaints? If yes, how should it be created – the legal framework? What should be its structure? How should it be funded? What types of complaints should it handle? What should be its powers, functions, duties and responsibilities?” the paper asked the stakeholders.
Stakeholders are requested to furnish their comments to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) by August 18, 2016, and counter comments by August 26, 2016.
It also asked: “Is the complaint redressal mechanism, as presently existing, adequate or is there a need to strengthen it? Are there any specific changes that can be made to the existing system to improve it?”
“Should a separate — independent and appropriately empowered — structure to resolve telecom sector complaints and grievances be established?”
Individual complaints received by both the Department of Telecom (DoT) and TRAI till June 2016 were 38,702.
From a subscriber base of around 90 million in March 2006, the number of telecom subscribers in India reached around 1.04 billion by June 2016.
These subscribers filed approximately 10.23 million complaints just in the January-March quarter in 2016 with the telecom service providers (TSPs). The complaints were on account of wrong billing, indifferent or poor quality of service, non-provision of contracted services, etc.
“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. Without such a system, benefits of the telecom revolution, which encompasses provision of a variety of services, such as banking, money transfer, govt. services, to the public will miss the intended target,” the consultation paper.
In accordance with the TRAI Act, the authority has from time to time issued regulations specifying the broad framework of the complaint redressal mechanism that all the TSPs should establish and maintain within their organisations.
The first such regulation was issued in 2007. This specified a 3-tier grievance redressal system. In 2012, this regulation was reviewed and replaced by a revised 2-tier mechanism with the objective of improving the efficiency and speeding up the complaint resolution process. This 2-tier system has been implemented by all the TSPs and is in existence now.