Customers to not be charged extra for calls, SMSes on blackout days: TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a new directive to telecom operators to not charge their customers for SMSes and calls more their current tariff rates on days such as Diwali and Holi, referred to as ‘blackout days’. However, free or concessional voice calls and SMS offered to users under discount schemes or packs will not be available on blackout days.

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As per TRAI’s latest directive, a consumer has to be informed through SMS not earlier than 72 hours and not later than the 24 hours before the blackout day begins, specifying the the occasion and date of the blackout day and the rate applicable for calls and SMSs on such days.

“No access service provider shall, – where the number of days so specified as referred to in clause (a) above is less than five, make any addition to the number of days specified as ‘black out’ days, after the same is subscribed by the telecom consumer ; (c) make any alteration in any date which has been specified as a ‘black out’ day as referred to in clause (a) above, after the same is subscribed by the telecom consumer.”

Importantly, the body directs all telecom service providers to reveal the specifics of the tariffs on the package itself, clearly stating that free or concessional voice calls and SMS available under discount schemes or packs will not apply on blackout days, and that usual SMS and call charges will be levied on such days.

The TRAI also sought a report from the telecom service providers ascertaining compliance. In the directive further, the TRAI highlights that service providers sent them information on the manner in which consumers are being informed about the “‘blackout’ days and also the contents of SMS being sent to the consumers for the purpose”.

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