India’s Telecom Commission yesterday approved the implementation of two major communication tech services – internet telephony and mobile connectivity on flights and ships. The commission also accepted the proposal for creating posts for ombudsmen to address consumer grievances. These changes were proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last October and were later approved by telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan. Internet telephony aims to allow calls to mobile and landline phones over a Wi-Fi connection. The license-holding telecom operators in the country will be eligible to allocate new mobile numbers, without the need for a SIM card, to make internet-based calls using a dedicated mobile app. The calls made using the newly approved tech will be covered under the regulations that currently cover cellular calls and will also be chargeable as the thereof. This move will help carriers provide a better quality of service (QoS) in areas that face frequent call drops.
After state-owned BSNL started providing international calls at local rates using its mobile app a while back, local private carriers opposed the company’s service, prompting BSNL to put it on hold. With internet telephony now being legally authorized, all telecom operators in the country will be allowed to offer similar services. The commission also took a landmark decision of permitting in-flight connectivity over the Indian airspace. According to the commission, providers of such solutions will have to be licensed by the Department of Telecom and pay an annual fee of Re. 1. The telecom secretary added that the national implementation of in-flight connectivity will begin immediately, with the service expected to roll out commercially in the coming months.
Telecom operators in India receive about ten million complaints every quarter, according to Sundararajan, all of which remain between carriers and subscribers. To address this, the commission allowed the creation of ombudsman positions by TRAI to strengthen the grievance redressal system in the industry. After the new plan is implemented, customers unsatisfied with their carriers will be able to head to a consumer court, and if the grievance is still unresolved, the ombudsman will offer the next level of support for complaint redressal. Besides these, TRAI had proposed to widen the public Wi-Fi network in the South Asian country, with that suggestion also being approved by the panel.