Telecommunication Sector



Telecommunication plays a vital role in the socio-economic development of the country. They are now recognised as a key to the rapid growth and modernization of the economy and an important tool for socio-economic development for a nation. Telecommunication in India can be traced back to the 19th century when the British East India Company introduced telegraph services in India. The past two decades have been considered as the golden period for the telecommunications industry in India with exponential growth and development in terms of technology, penetration, as well as policy.


The modern system of communications in India started with the establishment of telegraph network. In order to ensure telegraph network’s exclusively and establish government control  over electronic communications, various telegraph statute were enacted by the Government of India which laid the foundation of the present regulatory framework governing telecommunications.


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was established in 1997 through an Act of Parliament, viz., the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s mission is to ensure that the interests of consumers are protected and at the same time to nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications, broadcasting and cable services in a manner and at a pace which will enable India to play a leading role in the emerging global information society.

For achieving these objectives, the Authority issues from time to time regulations, directions, orders or guidelines. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 has been passed to bring the quality of telecom services to world standards, and make available a wide range of services to customers at reasonable prices. The Act has made possible fair competitive participation of various companies in the telecom sector and the protection and promotion of consumer interest. Under the Act, the regulatory functions have been separated from the service providing functions, which is now the general trend in the world. Mainly the Act provides for the establishment of the Telecom Regulatory Authority (hereafter referred as “Authority”) to maintain harmony in present multi-operator situation in which private operators are competing with the government operators. It is expected that this may ensure healthy growth of the telecommunications infrastructure and protection of consumers interest in a better way.

TRAI gives highest importance for consumer protection as it is embodied in the preamble to the Act, as below:-

An Act to provide for the establishment of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal to regulate the telecommunication services, adjudicate disputes, dispose of appeals and to protect the interests of service providers and consumers of telecom sector and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The framework for consumer protection, mandated as one of the functions of TRAI under the TRAI Act, is as under:-

“Lay-down the standards of quality of service to be provided by the service provider and to ensure the quality of service and conduct the periodical survey of such service provided by the service providers so as to protect interest of the consumers of telecommunication service.”

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 enabled the establishment of the TRAI. The 1997 Act empowered the TRAI with quasi-judicial authority to adjudicate upon and settle telecom dispute. Later this Act was amended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act, 2000 to bring in better clarity and distinction between the regulatory and recommendatory functions of TRAI. Further, the 2000 amendment served a very important purpose in completely differentiating the judicial functions of TRAI by setting up of the TDSAT. The jurisdiction of civil courts has been expressly barred in cases where the TDSAT has jurisdiction. The role of the Authority is mainly related to introduction of new service providers and the specification of the terms and conditions of the licence granted to them. This is a matter of very vital concern for general consumers.

The Act was amended in 2000 by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act which, inter alia, substituted Chapter IV of the principal Act providing for the establishment of Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal. The Appellate Tribunal is empowered to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction, decision or order of the Authority. Any failure to comply with the orders of Appellate Tribunal has been made punishable under the Act. Against any direction or order made by the Appellate Tribunal, appeal can be filed in the Supreme Court. The consumer associations should, therefore, create common awareness about the authorities established under the Act and their role. Guidance and opportunities to approach these authorities should also be provided to common people.


The power to establish the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India lies with the Central Government. The Authority may consist of a chairperson who was to be a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of a High Court, one or two whole-time members and one or two part-time members, to be appointed by the Central Government. The chairperson and the members should be persons having special knowledge and professional experience in telecommunication, industry, finance, accountancy, law, management or consumer affairs. Any person in government service can be appointed as a member if such a person has held the post of secretary or additional secretary, or secretary to the Government of India or any equivalent post in the central government or the state government for a period of not less than three years. Any person having financial or other interest likely to affect prejudicially his functions as such member should not be so appointed. The chairperson and other members can hold office for a term of three years, or until they attain the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier. On the commencement of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act, 2000, the persons appointed as chairperson and as members and were holding office as such immediately before such commencement were directed to vacate their respective offices, and were made entitled to claim compensation, not exceeding three month’s pay and allowances for the premature termination of the term of their offices and contract of service.


The functions of the Authority are to make recommendations, either suo motu or on a request from the licensor about:

(i)     The need and timing for the introduction of new service provider;

(ii)   The terms and conditions of licence to a service provider;

(iii) The revocation of licence for non compliance of terms and condition of licence;

(iv) The measure to facilitate competition and promote efficiency in the operation of telecommunication services so as to facilitate growth in such services;

(v)   The technological improvements in the services provided by the service providers;

(vi) The type of equipment to be used by the service providers after inspection of equipment used in the network; & measures for the development of telecommunication technology and any other matter relatable to telecommunication industry in general;

(vii)The efficient management of available spectrum

In addition to making such recommendations, the authority is required to:

(i)     To ensure technical compatibility and effective interconnection between different operators and service providers.

(ii)   Regulate the revenue sharing arrangement between different service providers

(iii) To lay down and ensure time frames for making available local and long- distance DoT circuits between service providers.

(iv) To protect consumer interest through monitoring of service quality standards.

(v)   To ensure compliance of license conditions, universal service obligations and the stated overall pricing policy by all operators and service providers.

(vi) To levy fees and other charges and to make regulations in that behalf.

(vii)To settle disputes between service providers

(viii)To fix tariff for telecom service and ensure price regulation, to render advice to the government in the national context on technology options, service provision and other allied matters concerned with telecom. Any other matter referred to it by the government.

TRAI is to exercise recommendatory functions on the need and timing for introduction of new service provider and the terms and conditions of license to a service provider. In the exercise of its powers and the performance of its functions, TRAI shall be bound by directions on questions of policy given by the Government. TRAI is vested with judicial authority and powers. Appeals against its decision will lie with the High Court.

The Authority can levy fees and other charges at specified rates. It can perform such other functions of administrative and financial nature as may be entrusted to it by the Central Government.

The recommendations of the Authority on these matters are not binding upon the Central Government. Once the Central Government seeks the recommendations of the Authority in respect of need and timing for introduction of new service providers and about terms and conditions of licence, it should forward the same within a period of sixty days from the date on which they were sought. If necessary, the Authority may, for the purpose of making recommendations request the Central Government to furnish relevant information or documents, which the government is supposed to supply within a period of seven days from the date of request.

If the Authority does not send any recommendations about a matter within the specified period or as mutually agreed upon between the central government and the Authority, the central government may issue a licence to the service provider even in the absence of the recommendation. The central government may in appropriate cases refer the recommendation back to the Authority for its reconsideration, and the Authority should resubmit the same after reconsideration within fifteen days from the date of such reference. After receipt of further recommendations, if any, the final decision can be taken by the central government.

The Authority is empowered to notify the rates for providing telecommunication services, within and outside India. It also includes the rates at which messages can be transmitted to any country outside India. The Authority may for sufficient reasons notify different rates for different persons or class of persons for similar telecommunication services.


The Authority issues from time to time regulations, directions, orders or guidelines with the focus on:

(1)        Transparency in decision making by affording an opportunity to all stakeholders.

(2)        Providing consumer with adequate choice, affordable tariffs and high quality of service.

(3)        Promoting level playing field and fair competition among service providers.

(4)        Access to world class quality telecommunications, broadcasting and cable services.

(5)        Promoting efficiency in operations in all tier of the industry.

(6)        Adopting of emerging technologies within the framework of a technology neutral policy.

(7)        Ensuring technical compatibility and effective interconnection between service providers.


One of the important functions of TRAI is to ensure orderly growth of Telecommunication Service. In exercise of the powers conferred upon it under Section 36 of the TRAI Act, the TRAI has notified several regulations to protect the interest of consumers of telecom sector and to promote and ensure orderly growth of the sector. Some of the important aspects of the consumer centric regulations notified by TRAI from time to time are:-

(1)        Telecom Consumers Protection and Redressal of Grievances Regulations, 2007 (3 of 2007) dated 4.5.2007

(2)        Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund Regulations 2007 (6 of 2007) dated 15.06.2007

(3)        Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy Regualtions,2006 (5 of 2006 ) dated 21st March 2006.



The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) launched on MONDAY, 30 APRIL 2012 an online facility to monitor complaints from telecom consumers. Called Telecom Consumers Complaint Monitoring System (TCCMS), the portal ( would facilitate the telecom consumers in locating the ‘Consumer Care Number’, ‘General Information Number’ and contact details of the complaint centre and the Appellate Authority of their service provider.

The portal would also help access the website of their service provider’s complaint monitoring portal to track the current status of their complaints or appeals lodged with their service provider complaint centre or the Appellate Authority. According to a release, this portal will also help TRAI in monitoring the status of redressal of complaints lodged by the consumers with the service providers. It is felt that this portal will help enhance the effectiveness of the grievance redressal mechanism.

TRAI was established to regulate the telecommunication services; to ensure compliance of terms and conditions of license which includes customer service, Quality of Performance, Tariff also apart from other conditions and to lay down the standards of quality of service to be provided by the service providers and to ensure the quality of service and to conduct the periodical survey of such service provided by the service providers so as to protect interest of the consumers of telecommunication services. However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997 does not envisage redressal of individual complaints by TRAI. The Telecom Companies (operators) have their own consumer grievances redressal mechanism which is primarily responsible for redressal of all types of complaints of their consumers.

Consumer Complaint Centre Details :


Consumers can contact the Complaint Centre of service provider on toll free number at the first instance for redressal of their complaints. Complaints pertaining to fault repair, service disruption and disconnection of service have to be attended within a maximum period of 3 days. Other complaints to be attended by the Complaint Centre within a maximum period of 7 days, subject to time limits laid down in regulations on quality of service. The cases where no time limit is specified, shall be addressed within 3 days.
QoS Parameters for Basic Telephone Service (Wireline)

SerialNumber Service Parameter Time Limit for servicerequest or redressal ofcomplaint
 1 Provision of Telephone All cases within seven days(subject to technical feasibility)
 2 Fault Repair Within three days
 3 Shift of Telephone Connection Within three daysConnection
 4 Termination/    Closure   of Within seven daysservice
 5 Resolution       of         billing/ charging complaints All    billing    complaints    to    be resolved within four weeks.
 6 Period  of applying credit/waiver/adjustment Within  one  week  of  resolutionof complaint
 7 Time taken for refund of deposit after closure to be All cases of refund of deposits deposits made within sixty days

  (ii) Cellular Mobile Telephone Service:

QoS Parameters for Cellular Mobile Telephone Service

 Serial Number  Service Parameter Time Limit for servicerequest or redressal ofcomplaint
 1 Resolution       of         billing/charging complaints All    billing    complaints    to    beresolved within four weeks.
 2 Period              of         applyingcredit/waiver/adjustmentto         customer‘s       accountfrom                the       dateresolution of complaints Within  one  week  of  resolutionof complaint
 3 Termination/ Closure of service Within seven days
 4 Time taken for refund of deposits All cases of refund of deposits to be made within sixty days after closure.


(iii) Broadband Service:

QoS Parameters for Broadband Service

Serial Number Service Parameter Time Limit for servicerequest or redressal ofcomplaint
 1 Service Provisioning/Activation Time All cases within fifteen days(subject to technical feasibility).
 2 Fault Repair /Restoration Time Within three days
 3 Billing Performance(a)                Percentage of Billing Complaints resolved.(b)               Time          taken   forrefund  of  deposits  after closure (a)All billing complaints to be resolved within four weeks.(b)  All  cases  of  refund  of  deposits to  be  made  within  sixty  days  after closure.



If the consumer is not satisfied with the resolution of the complaints, he can approach the Appellate Authority for redressal of his complaints. Appeal may be submitted with Appellate Authority through e-mail or facsimile or post or in person, without paying any fee. Regulations also prescribes establishment of an Advisory Committee to examine and render advice on the appeals filed before the Appellate Authority. Advisory Committee shall comprise of two members, one member being representative of consumer organisation registered with TRAI and second being member from the service provider.

TRAI’s DND Initiative

Indian telecom Industry with nearly 900 million subscribers is the second largest wireless market in the world. Low tariffs and direct reach to consumers has made SMS and direct calling one of the most cost effective ways of selling services and products. However, telemarketing has brought with it serious issues of invasion of privacy and has become a major irritant to customers.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR) 2010″ on 1st December 2010. The new regulations have been designed with the motive of promoting customer satisfaction by way of giving the customer choice to opt for no promotions or selective promotions of his/her choice. The new regulations will replace the existing Unsolicited Commercial Communication Regulations, 2007 which were largely known as NDNC (National Do Not Call).NDNC  is referring to TCCCPR 2010 , so as to enable customers relate to these regulations in a better way.

To holistically curb this growing menace and effectively regulate unsolicited commercial Calls and messages, TRAI has notified “The Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations, 2010″. All the provisions of regulations come into force from 27th September, 2011.

The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Portal is a data base containing a variety of information prescribed in “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010″.


Click – Open the Image on a New page for larger view.

Customers- Customers (landline and mobile) who do not want to receive commercial communications can dial or SMS to 1909 (toll free) and register in either of the two categories:

Fully Blocked Category- stoppage of all commercial Calls/SMS

Partially Blocked Category- stoppage of all commercial Calls/SMS except SMS from one of the opted preferences

For registering option using SMS, for ‘fully blocked category’, write “START 0″ and send it to 1909. For ‘partially blocked category’, send SMS ‘START’ with one or multiple options from the list of seven categories.

There are at present 7 preferences to choose from- Banking/Insurance/Financial Products/Credit Cards-1, Real Estate-2, Education-3, Health-4, Consumer goods and automobiles-5, Communication/Broadcasting/Entertainment/IT-6, Tourism-7.

For example: To receive messages relating to only Health products, then send SMS “START 4″ to 1909. Similarly, for receiving messages relating to Real Estate and Education, send SMS “START 2,3″ to 1909.

On successful registration, customer will receive an SMS confirming exercised options and a Unique Registration Number within 24 hrs. The registration will be effective within 7 days of placing the request with the service provider. The customers can check the status of their registration by clicking on “Customer Registration Status”.

Customer can also change the preferences after 7 days of registration or the last change of preference.

If customer receives UCC even after 7 days of registration, he can register a complaint with his service provider within 3 days of receipt of such UCC by dialing or sending SMS to 1909. Customers will have to provide the telephone number or header of the message from where the call or message has been received, short description of such call or message along with the date and time.

For complaint through SMS, customer has to send SMS “COMP TEL NO XXXXXXXXXX;dd/mm/yy;Time in hh:mm; short description of Unsolicited Commercial Communication” to 1909. Where XXXXXXXXXX – is the telephone number or header of the SMS, from which the UCC has originated.

Service Provider will take action on complaint and inform the complainant within 7 days of lodging of complaint. Customers may check registration status of his complaint through the link “UCC Complaint Registration Status”.

Customers not registered with NCPR can also identify the commercial calls because they will all come from numbers starting with ’140′. This is a series specially earmarked for telemarketers.

Also, in order to control the possibility of SMS packages (those allow a very large number of SMS per day) to be used by the telemarketers for sending large number of SMSs from a normal telephone number, a limit of 100 SMS per day per SIM has been laid down under these regulations except on blackout days. Further, all commercial calls or SMS except the transactional SMSs will be sent to the customers only between 9 AM and 9 PM.

Telemarketers- This portal also facilitates registration of telemarketers. Existing telemarketers also have to re-register with TRAI. To register as telemarketer, click the link “New Telemarketer Registration” and follow the instructions. Payment of registration fee can be made through online mode (credit card/debit card/Internet Banking) or offline mode (cash or DD). Registered telemarketers can download the data base of customers registered on NCPR through this portal using their login credentials and it shall be their responsibility to ensure that no call for SMS is made to such numbers.

The particulars of registered telemarketers can be accessed by clicking the link“List of registered telemarketers”. The detailed Guidelines and procedures to be followed by the telemarketers are provided under the menu “Telemarketers”.

Access Providers- This portal also provides Guidelines and procedures to be adopted by Access Providers under the menu“Access Providers”. Access Providers can do various activities in accordance with the regulations through this portal using their login credentials.

To address your doubts and questions, it is also attempted to cover a number of clarifications and points of additional information in the FAQs.

The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Portal is a data base containing a variety of information prescribed in “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010″.

To avail this service the customer can message STOP DND or STOP 0 send it to 1909 or Call 1909 (Toll Free ) For more details:


MNP was launched across all circles in India on 20th January 2011

Mobile Number Portability (MNP), it is a  service using which a mobile  phone subscriber can migrate from one operator to another without having to change his/her mobile number. For example, you can opt to choose for Voafone services on your Airtel number or vice-versa.

As of now mobile number porting can be done only within the same telecom circle and not on inter-state or inter-telecom circle basis. inter-state MNP has already been approved by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) and telecom operators will be soon introducing inter-state MNP services too.


Generate UPC (Unique Porting Code)  from the same number that you wish to port (procedure mentioned below)

*        Clear all your pending dues (if your’s is a post-paid mobile connection)

*        Visit a mobile outlet or nearby store of the new operator along with:

-The UPC code thus generated

- 2 photo and a copy of your identity proof & address proof

*        Pay the requisite porting fees of Rs. 19/-

*        Get your number ported to new operator within the stipulated time frame of 15 days


*        Send an SMS: PORT<space>Mobile Number (that is to be ported) to 1900

For ex. PORT 9812345678

*        Your existing operator will immediately provide with an 8 digit alpha-numeric porting code that you need to submit to the operator you wish to opt to along with relevant documents. (The unique porting code will be valid only for 24 hours)

For more details:


The Indian government is committed to ensure and protect the welfare and rights of the consumers in the country so that easy availability of commodities is made accessible to them and they are protected from any exploitation. The Department of Consumer Affairs under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is responsible for the formulation of policies for Consumer Cooperatives, Consumer Movement in the country, monitoring Prices, and availability of essential commodities, and Controlling of statutory bodies like Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Weights & measures.

For more details:


*        In order to provide prompt Consumer Resource and Grievance Redressal service, the Government of India is facilitating an online registration process whereby the consumer can easily register their complaints without any hassle.

*        CORE (Consumer Online Resource and Empowerment) Centre is the only Indian Consumer Resource and Grievance Redressal System funded and supported by the Government.

*        With a vision of Consumer Sovereignty, the centre represents the Interest of Consumers by readdressing their complaints and avoiding unnecessary litigation for brands. It can be effectively used as a one point source for redressal as well as a nodal agency to protect the interests of Indian Consumers.

*        The Consumer Coordination Council, which is a premier organization in the field of consumer movement of India, recommended the setting-up of CORE Centre with an objective to provide better accessibility of professional advice to the consumer.

*        CORE was set up in 2005 as an institutional framework with appropriate infrastructure, systems and methodologies for studying various aspects of consumer issues in India, with the assistance from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India.

*        The fundamental principle of the project is based on the premise that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can be effectively used for:

*        Generating Awareness

*        Development of Consumer Rights

*        Focusing corporate attention on consumer needs, preferences and problems

*        Orienting government functioning vis-à-vis Citizens

*        Seeking enforcement of Citizen Charters

*        Apart from providing a platform for the consumers to lodge their complaints online, CORE Centre also runs Customer Retention Programme by offering partnership to select large companies to help them retain their customers and build their brand around unique customer retention strategies as developed by the Centre.

For more details:


Telecommunications had traditionally been a voice communication service, managed by government or Public Sector Enterprises. The dominant role acquired by telecommunications in the global business management and its effect on national economies has seen this service develop as a vital backbone and utility service for business and industry. In fact, this service itself now stands transformed into a full-fledged industry. The telecommunication business is, therefore, the world over, increasingly governed by industrial and competition norms. Free markets and open and fair competition are almost universally accepted as the ideal means to facilitate growth of communication services, with competition acting as a catalyst to bring down costs and improve efficiency and quality of service.

With the above background, TRAI had issued a consultation paper on establishment of Office of Ombudsman in the telecommunication sector in January, 2004 inviting comments from all stakeholders. TRAI feels that the Ombudsman should handle and investigate all unresolved complaints within a time frame. The Ombudsman would facilitate through its mediation, the terms for the resolution, settlement and/or withdrawal of the complaints. The unresolved complaints will inevitably go to the Consumer Courts. For the purpose of discharging its duties, responsibilities and functions, TRAI is of the opinion that once the proposal is accepted in principle, the locations and staffing pattern etc. of the Ombudsman can be finalised by the Government, in consultation with the Authority.

Thus in March 12, 2007 in New Delhi, Telecom subscribers in the country finally have an ombudsman to settle their grievances and disputes. Around nine months after the government announced the initiative, the two telecom associations Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI) – have decided to set up the office of the Telecom Sector Ombudsman (TSO).


For more details:

Legislations :

1.TRAI Amendment Ordinance 2000

2. TRAI Act, 1997

3. Telegraph Act, 1885