TRAI Inspecting Labelled Broadband Services

Internet users are likely to get labelled broadband services soon, if the telecom regulator TRAI has its way. A consultation paper — ‘Data Speed Under Wireless Broadband Plans’ — has been floated by the regulator on June 1 on exploring such a possibility.

Broadband labelling refers to providing detailed information to consumers so that they can chose between service providers.

Information could relate to pricing, minimum average speed, monthly data allowance — namely, the carrier-defined plan limit after which consumers will incur additional charges, broadband speed and other performance metrics.

According to Udai Mehta, Deputy Executive Director, CUTS International, an evidence based think-tank working on consumers’ interest, labelling should help consumers with more informed choices. Understanding data plans would also become easier.

In fact, such labelling is not new. It has already been done in the US by the Federal Communications Commission through its Open Internet Order in 2015. The UK too has the Voluntary Code of Practice for Broadband Speeds.

“We along with the IIT-Delhi are working on a standard (disclosure) format for wireline users. This will be given to the regulator. However, we are yet to start work on the wireless internet that accounts for majority of the usage,” Mehta said. In fact, CUTS International has been able to bring on-board three mobile and service provider associations like ICA and Broadband India Forum.

It has tied up with 10-odd consumer organisations to call for greater consumer awareness in this regard.

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