The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in a statement on Monday said that it was "disappointed with Trai's decision to rule out differential pricing".
"The telecom industry is disappointed with TRAI’s decision to rule out differential pricing. COAI had approached the regulator with the reasons to allow price differentiation as the move would have taken us closer to connecting the one billion unconnected citizens of India. By opting to turn away from this opportunity, TRAI has ignored all the benefits of price differentiation that we had submitted as a part of the industry’s response to its consulting paper, including improving economic efficiency, increase in broadband penetration, reduction in customer costs and provision of essential services among other things.
"In our opinion, TRAI’s regulation on prohibiting differential pricing constitutes a welfare-reducing measure of high concern by blocking a possible avenue for our less-advantaged citizens to move to increased economic growth and prosperity by harnessing the power of the Internet. We believe that this measure will have an impact on the Government’s ambitious Digital India initiative," said Rajan Mathews, Director General, COAI.
This statement comes after telecom regulator Trai on Monday barred operators offering differential data tariffs from charging discriminatory prices for web access.
"Anything on Internet cannot be differently priced. This is the broad point that we have highlighted in regulation," Trai Chairman RS Sharma said.
Plans which are active in contravention of the new regulations should cease to exist in 6 months, he said, adding that the new regulations have been notified in Gazette and are effective from today.
"No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged to the consumer on the basis of content," Trai said.
However, service providers have been allowed to reduce tariff for access in case of providing emergency services.
"We have not defined emergency services. But in case of such services, operators have to inform Trai within 7 working days," Sharma said.
With inputs from PTI