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Telecom regulator may examine mobile tariffs
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Missing number portability deadline is anti-consumer: TRAI chief. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India may look into tariffs being offered by mobile operators based on the cost structure of the telecom companies.

The TRAI Chairman, Mr J.S. Sarma, told reporters that the exercise may be undertaken to examine the existing tariff structure keeping in view consumer affordability and operators' costs.

Mr Sarma's comments comes a day after Bharti Airtel's CEO, Mr Manoj Kohli, said that the TRAI should look at whether any operator was indulging in predatory pricing in the market. A number of new operators have launched their mobile services with tariffs as low as 1 paise for 2 seconds and Re 1 for a 10 minute call. Offers from Tata DoCoMo and other players such as MTS have forced incumbent players to also respond with lower tariffs.

But other operators, including existing GSM players, do not agree with Airtel's stance. A senior executive of a large GSM operator said that the issue of predatory pricing arises only when an incumbent offers below costs tariff.

“In this case, it is the new players who are launching their service with attractive schemes to get subscribers. How can an incumbent player accuse a new operator of being a predator?,” said the executive.

TRAI has, however, been thinking about reviewing the entire tariff structure given that the previous exercise was done in 2003. So far it has been pushed back by the GSM lobby but Mr Kohli's comments could trigger the process at TRAI.

Mr Sarma also said that he expected mobile operator to introduce mobile number portability by January 1. “Anyone who does not do it by December 31 runs the risk of being perceived as being against the consumer,” Mr Sarma said.

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