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TRAI favours cap on tariff plans

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 8. Faced with the difficult task of monitoring a staggering number of tariff plans being reported to it by basic and mobile players, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today came out with a consultation paper on limiting the number of tariff plans offered by service providers.

"Frequent revision and withdrawal of tariff plans add to the confusion of customers. A possible way of addressing the problems without curtailing the flexibility granted to the operators or hampering the competition could be to place a suitable cap on the number of tariff plans that the service providers can offer," TRAI said justifying the initiative.

The main issues the consultation process would cover include the number of plans to be permitted, the identification of service segments for the application of the proposed cap, desirability of having minimum validity period of tariff plans and the criteria in respect of tariff topping and promotional offers.

In a statement on the subject, TRAI contended that while a variety of choice for users would be a welcome development, too many plans confuse the customers and render informed choice difficult.

"At the end of September 2003, 1,421 plans were on offer all over India, suggesting that on an average 42 plans per circle were offered. In addition, another 500 plans were offered as promotional schemes. The figures are likely to go up soon with the entry of additional operators in several circles," the regulator said.

The authority has sought comments from stakeholders on this issue by March 27.

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