Telecom subscribers will be able to soon check tariff plans of different operators on the regulator's website, improving transparency over rates, Trai Chairman RS Sharma has said. Going further, Trai is mulling allowing 'export' or use of that data to enable people to build tariff-comparison apps and products, just as one sees for insurance or airline fares. The regulator has recently asked all operators to start filing their tariffs in electronic form along with physical submission, and intends to do away with the physical filing entirely, albeit in a phased manner. As per some estimates, nearly 24,000 rates are filed in a year by telecom companies -- the number includes tariff plans for all operators for various circle as well as special tariff vouchers. "We will not only have transparent tariff display on the Trai site, we will also probably enable machine-readable data which can be exported, so people can build applications on top of it. We will provide APIs (code that enables two software programs to talk)," Sharma told PTI. The 'export' of data will allow app makers to build products based on the tariff information displayed on Trai site. "... So more applications can be built on top of that.
For example, in insurance, there are apps which say which policy is the best. One can also do a comparison for airfares. Similarly, people should be able to build apps on top of it (tariff data) to suggest to consumers the best plan to buy in an area," Sharma said. Asked about the timeline for enabling export of data for the apps, he said: "We will do it pretty soon. Now, we are asking them (telcos) to submit data online which will reduce their workload also." Online filing of tariffs by telcos will mean more convenience and efficiencies in the system. "They (telcos) have to do a lot of paper submission, online filing will make life easier for everyone," he added. Sharma noted that complaints about people-specific (customised) tariffs recently had also prompted the regulator to reiterate its stance on transparency and non-discriminatory framework to the telecom operators. Earlier this year, Reliance Jio had charged incumbent operators of lining up customised retention offers for subscribers wanting to shift out of their network. Jio had then alleged that such offers being presented to customers "surreptitiously" on one-to-one basis, are also not being openly publicised on websites of incumbent telcos.
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