India: TRAI's Recommends On Encouraging Data Usage In Rural Areas Through Provisioning Of Free Data (Technology, Media And Telecommunication: October 2016 - December 2016)


TRAI's recommends on encouraging data usage in rural areas through provisioning of Free Data

Data providing operators include a host companies in India. Data Services vary from Mobile Data to Broadband services to providing Wi-Fi services. Companies' part of these includes big mobile operators such as Vodafone, Airtel & Idea and other operators such as Reliance, MTNL, BSNL, etc. All of these companies are actually governed by the rules & regulations of TRAI. One of the main aims of TRAI currently is to provide free data in rural & remote areas.

For this certain recommendations have been put forward. Firstly, TRAI has given a 100mb access service free to users in these areas for using internet services. The meet this implementation, the cost is to be taken out of the USOF. For this, to increase participation, other third party aggregators needed to be introduced to facilitate schemes which were TSP-Agnostics and non-discriminatory in implementation. The other thing they think they are focusing on is to provide these service to handset which do support internet services but are not smart phones since a majority of people in these areas don't or cannot afford smart phone.

The introduction of schemes for the provisions of free data services into the Indian telecom market would create the benefits in terms of Greater digital inclusion, Increased spend on telecommunication services and innovation in content and services and would thus help in narrowing the gap between the rural & urban areas in digital space.

Licensing Framework for Audio Conferencing, Audiotex, Voice Mail Services

TRAI received a reference from DoT on January 19, 2016 for review of the terms & conditions for issue of fresh licenses for Voicemail/ Audiotex/ UMS and for migration of existing licenses. Keeping in view the changes in technology and the resultant new user applications and services, there was a need to review different aspects of licensing and as a result recommendations were given.

The features of these recommendations include a new chapter for authorisation titled 'Audio-Conferencing/ Audiotex/ Voice Mail Services' keeping the earlier Access service licenses to also provide these services. The operating condition clauses of the existing license service should be made part of the Unified Licenses. There should not be standalone licenses for Unified Messaging Services. The UMS service should be provided with Access Service authorization or Internet Service authorization under Unified Licenses.

TRAI has recommended these steps with an option for existing services to migrate to the UL. There should not be any mandatory migration as per the guidelines for the new regime. But they have introduced an 8% license fee for existing license who do not migrate to the UL.

TRAI on Net Neutrality

TRAI has released its most comprehensive consultation paper yet on the issue of net neutrality, the principle that seeks equal access to all Internet content, emphasizing the need for Internet service providers to not misuse existing Internet traffic management techniques to discriminate.

In the past year or so, TRAI has issued two papers on various aspects of net neutrality without taking a final view. TRAI outlined two approaches to traffic management.

"First, a broad approach which involves defining what would constitute 'reasonable' traffic management practices. Second approach would be a narrow approach, which would limit itself to a negative list of non reasonable traffic management practices," it said. "Thus, a discussion on net neutrality must be.

It stressed on the importance of a broader understanding of net neutrality among authorities, saying it is "important to identify core principles of net neutrality for India and the types of practices that might be regarded as being in violation of these core principles". This new consultation paper basically has recommendations on provisioning of free data.

The main highlight was that "There can be two policy/regulatory approaches to achieve this end. First, a broad approach which involves defining what would constitute 'reasonable' traffic management practices. Further, this reference to reasonable management of 'Internet traffic' also brings into question the treatment of specialized/ managed services that are delivered using IP but do not serve the same functionality as the public Internet; or those that may require a level of quality that cannot be guaranteed on the Internet,"

Consultation Paper on Captive VSAT CUG policy

TRAI on recommendation from DoT dated on March 16 2016 and on the basis of the this DoT sought these recommendation of TRAI on minimum License Fee in respect of 2nd Hub in Captive VSAT CUG network and terms and conditions of Captive VSATCUG License.

The TRAI paper has also sought industry views on whether licence fee for a second VSAT hub, (being used independently or for redundancy purposes) should be the same as the first VSAT hub, and also the quantum of per annum fee for the second hub. At present, the licence fee stands at Rs 10,000 per annum per VSAT earth stations installed, in case of the first hub. But in case the licensee wants to put second hub for geographical redundancy or, say, operational diversity and if that second hub station remains commissioned, a minimum license fee of Rs 16 lakh per annum for up to 100 captive VSATs is applicable in addition to the license fee payable for the first hub.

The Authority further consulted some of the Captive VSAT licensees, who brought out some additional issues related to applicability of Royalty charges and delay in approvals in augmentation of bandwidth for Captive VSAT. It has decided to include these issues also for the consultation of the stakeholders, so as to provide comprehensive recommendations on issues concerning captive VSAT licensees.

Consultation on Model for Nation-wide Interoperable & Scalable Public Wi-Fi Network

Realizing the importance of public Wi-Fi networks as complementary to existing landline and cellular mobile infrastructure in improving broadband penetration and adoption in the country, the TRAI released a consultation paper on "Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi-Fi Networks" on 13th July 2016. This is a major step towards the Digital India initiative.

A few of the important issues pointed out in the consultation paper for a successful, scalable and sustainable public Wi-Fi infrastructure in the country include (i) technical interoperability and seamless connectivity of Wi-Fi networks (ii) innovative payment, commercialization, and monetization models; and (iii) collaborative partnerships between various entities of the ecosystem.

With the use of Wi-Fi, there could be many improvements in internet market such as providing better in-building coverage, mobile data offload thus relieving capacity in the macro cellular networks which use the scarce licensed spectrum & possible ubiquitous seamless Internet.

Digitally Safe Consumer Campaign By Google

Google has teamed up with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs in India to launch a country-wide 'Digitally Safe Consumer' campaign in order to raise awareness and protect consumer interest on the internet. As part of the campaign, Google will work on educating consumer organisations in India, help in training members of the Consumer Affairs department, and also work with officials in the National Consumer Helpline.

Google will start rolling out this year-long campaign in January 2017, and it will work towards organizing 'Digital Literacy, Safety & Security' workshops. Google will rely on the 'Train the Trainer' model for this exercise, and plans to train around 500 people, including 250 consumer organizations across the country.

The educational campaign will also feature write ups, posters, interactive quizzes and audio-visuals that will help educate users about the challenges of Internet safety and security.

TRAI's Consultation on the Review of the Regulatory Framework for Interconnection

The Authority is undertaking a review of the existing regulatory framework for interconnection with the ultimate objective of facilitating effective and expeditious interconnection between TSPs in a consultative manner. The main objectives of the consultation paper dated October 21, 2016, for review of the Regulatory framework are following:

  • Laying Down Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory Terms and Conditions for Interconnection Agreement between telecom service providers (TSPs), in view of the technological, market, licensing, regulatory and legal developments in the telecommunication services sector in India since 2002
  • Whether it is appropriate to mandate only those TSPs who hold significant market power (SMP) in a licensed service area to publish their Reference Interconnect Offers (RIOs)? If yes, what should be the criteria for reckoning a TSP as SMP? If no, what could be the other approaches to streamline the process of interconnection in a fair, reasonable and non discriminatory manner?
  • What should be the framework to ensure timely provisioning/ augmentation of E1 ports and its various aspects?
  • What should be the time-frame for entering into interconnection agreement when a new TSP with a valid telecom license places a request for interconnection to an existing TSP?
  • Whether interconnection and interconnection agreement should be service-specific or service-agnostic (i.e. a TSP can send any type of traffic on a point of interconnection which is allowed under the terms and conditions of the license given to it)? What are the advantages/ disadvantages of having service specific POIs when the TSPs are equipped with call data record (CDR) based billing systems?

TRAI's recommends Penalty of INR 50 Crores on Vodafone, Airtel and Idea

The regulator received various letters containing complaints from the new entrant Reliance Jio providing details of inadequacies of E1 ports from the three incumbent TSPs. i.e. Vodafone, Airtel and Idea. To resolve the issue in hand TRAI wrote letters to the three incumbent operators to justify and explain their position, to which the three TSPs along with COAI responded stating that they are in no position, by way of network resources or financial resources to terminate the volumes of traffic Reliance Jio which are markedly asymmetric also mentioning that their members are not obliged to entertain interconnect requests which are derived from abnormal induced traffic patterns that game the IUC regime and are anti-competitive in nature.

In furtherance of this show cause notices were also issued to the three TSPs, asking as to why actions under the provisions of TRAI Act, should not be initiated against them for violation of the provisions of License Agreements and the Standards of QoS of Basic Telephone Service (Wireline) and Cellular Mobile Telephone Service Regulations, 2009. The TSPs further responded on the grounds/reasons which did not appeal the Authority and it rejected them as non- tenable. The Authority was of the view that the TSPs are in non-compliance of the terms and conditions of the license agreement and denial of interconnection to Reliance Jio appears to be with ulterior motive to stifle the competition, anti-consumer and against public interest. TRAI in a strongly worded recommendation letter dated October 21, 2017 stated that such non-compliance of the terms and conditions of the license warrants recommendations for revocation of the license, however mindful of the fact that such revocation would lead to great inconvenience to the consumers, they would recommend a penal action of Rs. 50 Crores per LSA wherever the POI congestion exceeded the allowable limit.

TRAI issued consultation on draft regulations [the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2016

As part of the consultative process, the draft Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2016 has been uploaded on the TRAI's website. The basic principles of non-exclusivity, non- discrimination, transparency, level playing field and fair completion have been retained in these draft regulations. Some of the new features of the draft regulations are as follows:-

  • A common interconnection framework for all addressable systems namely DTH, HITS, DAS and IPTV.
  • "Must carry" provision for all addressable systems, on first come first serve basis. DPOs to publish information about its platform including available capacity and declare the rate of carriage fee.
  • No carriage fee is to be paid by a broadcaster if the subscription of the channel is more than or equal to 20% of the subscriber base.
  • The rate of carriage fee has been capped at 20 paisa per channel per subscriber per month. Further, the carriage fee amount will decrease with increase in subscription.
  • The distributors of TV channels may offer discounts on the carriage fee rate declared by them not exceeding 35% of the rate of the carriage fee declared.
  • The interconnection agreements to be signed in accordance with the Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO).
  • Broadcaster to offer to a distributor, a minimum of 20% of the maximum retail price of its pay channel(s) or bouquet(s) of pay channels as distribution fee. They may also offer discounts on the maximum retail price provided that the sum of discounts and distribution fee in no case shall exceed 35% of the maximum retail price, so declared.

Guidelines for TSPs for ensuring transparency and uniformity in the process of tariff recharges, payments through Third Party Apps, Websites

The industry regulator TRAI with an objective to ensure transparency and uniformity in the process of tariff recharges, payments through Third Party Apps, Websites (Channel partners) to the subscribers, issued the following guidelines to the TSPs providing access services or internet services;

  • There should not be any difference in the features of tariff products and the benefits available on the TSP's website and Channel partner's website(s)/apps(s). a mechanism should be introduced by the TSPs where a new tariff product or any change in any tariff product is concurrently updated on Channel Partner's website(s)/app(s). Only after ensuring updation of such tariff product(s) on Channel Partner(s), tariff product should be made live for the subscribers.
  • TSPs should ensure and direct the Channel Partner(s) that any agreement between Channel Partner and Sub- Channel partner(s) should include suitable clauses on subscriber relations, attending subscriber grievances, recharge process and tariff updation apart from other technical requirements and guidelines as contained in the agreement between the TSP and Channel Partner. Since Channel Partner(s) and Sub-Channel Partner(s) are non-licensed entities and are appointed by the TSPs based on mutually agreed terms and conditions, all responsibilities for ensuring compliance of terms and conditions of the license agreement and other regulatory guidelines shall remain with the TSP.
  • Any new tariff product or any change in an existing tariff product should be made live only at midnight (between 00:00 Hrs and 02:00 Hrs) on the date of the launch or change in tariff product.

TRAI on mobile banking (USSD channel)

TRAI in its notification brought in the November laid down few amendments for revising the ceiling tariff. TRAI vide Telecommunication Tariff (Sixty First Amendment) Order dated on November 22, 2016 has inserted to the principle tariff order, for revising the ceiling tariff downwards for USSD based Mobile Banking and Payment Services and other related aspects. The Mobile Banking (Quality of Service) (Amendment) Regulations is being issued increasing the maximum number of stages for completing a mobile banking transaction from 5 to 8.

The Authority was of the view that a ceiling tariff of Rs. 0.50 per USSD session for mobile banking and payment service (which may comprise of one or more banking transaction as per agreement between bank/bank agent) would be reasonable to compensate the TSPs, regardless of whether the session results in a successful or a failed banking transaction, to meet the expenses incurred in the use of USSD for mobile banking service.

The Authority through this decided that usage of USSD channel should be allowed for offering payment services to all the authorized entities regulated under the Payments and Settlement Act, 2007 of RBI and payments being received on Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).

Consultation paper on 'Spectrum, Roaming and QOS related requirements in Machine-To-Machine (M2M) Communications'

Keeping in view the exponential evolution in the digital space and the growing importance of machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity, TRAI had issued a consultation paper on the matter inviting views from stakeholders. This paper is TRAI's response to query raised by Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which on January 5, 2016. M2M communication has potential to bring substantial social and economic benefits to governments, citizens, end-users and businesses through increase in productivity and competitiveness, improvements in service delivery, optimal use of scarce resources as well as creation of new jobs.

DoT envisaged the recommendation of TRAI on three aspects related to M2M communications; M2M spectrum requirements; M2M roaming requirements; and quality of service in M2M services. Apart from the specific issues referred by DoT through the reference, the authority realized that certain other regulatory aspects, including policy and licensing framework for M2M service providers, various technical challenges in implementation, allocation and utilization of various network codes, data protection, and privacy issues also need to be deliberated.

Therefore, these issues have also been included in this consultation paper for comments/inputs of the stakeholders. The consultation paper questioned the framework for introduction of M2M Service providers in the sector. The further questions was that whether the amendment in the existing licenses of access service/Internet Service Provider license and/or licensing authorization in the existing Unified License and UL (Virtual Network Operators) license or should it be kept under Other Service Providers category registration. The paper also sought opinion about the quantum of spectrum required to meet the M2M communications, keeping a horizon of 10-15 years.

Unified Licensing guidelines and amendments (WOL)

The amendment in brought in the provision of Right to use the spectrum and frequency assignment by the licensor in public interest. The amended clause personifies that the License agreement does not confer any right to assignment and use of spectrum for which separate specific Frequency Assignment shall be required from Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) Wing of the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications & IT which will permit utilization of appropriate frequencies/band for the establishment, maintenance and operation of wireless elements of Telecom Service, under specified procedure, terms and condition. This will include payment of the assignment and the right to use spectrum prescribed by WPC Wing from time to time.

The provision also lies down that the Licensee has to obtain, among others, site clearance from WPC in respect of fixed stations and its antenna mast. For this purpose the Licensee shall separately apply online on WPC wing. The procedure and instructions provided in by the order should be abided by the licensee and the service providers. This specific amendment is applied only to ASPs (Access Service Providers) under Unifies License and the existing related clauses are applicable to other services mention in UL as well.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.