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TRAI expands telecom consumer education fund, Telecom News

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In Short:

The regulator has made changes to rules governing a fund for telecom consumer education and protection. The fund can now be used for more purposes, including audit expenses and participation of consumer group representatives in meetings. The regulator rejected telcos’ requests to use the fund for consumer education workshops and to increase telco representation in the committee overseeing the fund. Telcos will not be compensated for mandatory text alerts as they are meant to be given for free. Amendments were also made due to bank mergers and changes in consumer protection laws.

Telecom Regulator Amends Regulations for Consumer Education and Protection Fund

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recently made amendments to regulations governing the Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund (TCEPF). These changes expand the permissible uses of the fund to cover expenses related to consumer education and protection activities.

Key Amendments:

  • Regulations 6 and 13: Trai has amended these rules to allow the fund to be used for activities such as preparation, maintenance, and audit of accounts, as well as for the participation of consumer group representatives in CUTCEF meetings.
  • Consumer Workshops: The regulator declined requests from telecom operators to use the TCEPF corpus for conducting consumer education workshops, stating that operators are already conducting such programs as required by Trai.
  • CUTCEF Representation: Trai also rejected industry demands for increased telco representation in the CUTCEF, deeming the current level of representation sufficient.
  • Compensation for Text Message Alerts: Telcos’ requests to use the TCEPF for compensating mandatory text message alerts were turned down by Trai, citing that such services should be provided to users free of charge.

In a related memorandum, Trai noted changes in the management of the TCEPF, including the merger of Corporation Bank with Union Bank of India in 2020. Additionally, amendments were made to align the regulations with the new Consumer Protection Act of 2019 which replaced the 1986 Act.

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