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Telcos want higher processing fee for mobile recharge

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Telecom companies want to raise the processing fee charged on mobile phone top-up vouchers to Rs 3, from Rs 2 now, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today said in a consultation paper.

It has also invited comments on combo vouchers that will provide customers with options of availing benefits of various other offers available under single recharge.

"COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) have requested for upward revision of the processing fee in top-up vouchers to Rs 3 from the existing ceiling of Rs 2," the telecom regulator said in the paper, 'Certain issues relating to the Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2012'.

COAI and AUSPI, lobby groups of GSM and CDMA players respectively, have both argued that there have been inflationary pressures over the last three years, since the ceiling of Rs 2 was prescribed by Trai.

COAI has also cited the rising cost of providing service by way of hike in salaries and wages, increased transportation and diesel cost and so in support of raising the fee.

If approved, the increase will effect pre-paid mobile phone users as they need to purchase vouchers which enables them to pay for making phone calls.

However, they would need to pay extra on the actual charges of these services that is termed as processing fee.

The fee was fixed under Telecommunication Tariff Order, 1999 which said, "a nominal fee, not exceeding two rupees towards administrative costs or expenses for each recharge under any tariff plan, shall be levied on any recharge exclusively meant for provision of talk time value".

The paper has also put up for discussion the proposal made by COAI to introduce 'combo vouchers' which it claims will provide more choice to subscribers and allow flexibility to operators to bundle features of Special Tariff Vouchers.

As per COAI, companies will offer facility of adding talk time value, validity extension and discounts on existing tariff plans in different combination to pre-paid users, instead of buying separate vouchers for each of these.

Trai notified Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2012 in first week of January.

The Regulator has fixed March 25 as last date for sending views on the paper.

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