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India's Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recently issued a Direction prescribing additional measures with a view to enhance transparency in the matter of charging on blackout days. The term ‘blackout days’ refers to the days on which the service providers do not allow free or concessional voice calls/ SMS offered by them under any plan/ package.
TRAI said that Mobile operators should not charge customers on calls or SMSes beyond their existing tariff plans on ‘Blackout Days’ like Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Holi and New Year etc.
Certain guidelines are already in place as per which the number of blackout days shall not exceed five in a calendar year and no alteration in any such date is allowed after the package is subscribed by the consumer.
The additional measures now being mandated include the following:
(i) The charges for calls or SMSs on ‘blackout’ days shall not exceed the rate in the tariff plan in which the consumer is enrolled;
(ii) Consumers shall be given intimation prior to start of every blackout day and the date/ occasion of the blackout day shall also be intimated; and
(iii) List of blackout days applicable for the calendar year shall be displayed on the website of service providers, before start of every calendar year and shall be published, service area wise, along with the tariff plans of the service provider, every six months.
The Direction has already been placed on TRAI’s website www.trai.gov.in.