Department of Telecommunications; Ministry of Communications; Statutory body
- The entry of private service providers brought with it the inevitable need for independent regulation. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was, thus, established with effect from 20th February 1997 by an Act of Parliament, called the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, to regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government
What is TRAI?
- Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), a statutory authority under Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications,
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was set up in order to have a suitable environment for the growth of the telecommunications industry in the country and be a part of the global information society. .
- The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from 24 January 2000, establishing a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.
- TDSAT was set up to adjudicate any dispute between a licensor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers, and to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction, decision or order of TRAI.
- TRAI shall have, in addition to its chairman, at least two full-time members and not more than two-part members, all appointed by the Central Government.
- The members should have special knowledge of, or professional experience in telecom, industry, finance, accountancy, law, management and consumer affairs.
- Only those senior or retired Government officers can be appointed as members who have served for at least three years as secretary/additional secretary to the Union or State Governments.
Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT)
- The powers of the TRAI have been considerably diluted by the TRAI (Amendment) Ordinance, 2000. Now the regulation of telecom services is to be done by TRAI and the newly set up Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
- They will also adjudicate disputes, dispose of appeals, protect interests of service providers and consumers, to promote and ensure orderly growth of the telecom sector.
The composition of TDSAT is also changed to include the chairman and not more than two whole-time members and not more than two part-time members to be appointed by the Government. The TDSAT has been given the mandate to adjudicate disputes:-
(i) between a licensor and a licensee;
(ii) between two or more service providers;
(iii) between a service provider and a group of consumers.
The Union Government, State Government, any local authority or any individual can approach the TDSAT for adjudication on issues related to disputes between parties mentioned above.
The chairperson and members of this tribunal are to be appointed by the Government of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
Powers and Functions of TRAI
The Powers and Functions of TRAI are mainly:
- To recommend the need for and timing of introduction of new service providers and terms and conditions of the license to a service provider;
- To ensure technical compatibility and inter-connect between different service providers and regulate their revenue-sharing arrangements;
- To ensure compliance with terms of license and revaluation of the same for non-compliance;
- To lay down and ensure a time period for providing long-distance and local distance circuits;
- To facilitate competition and promote efficiency in operations to promote the growth of telecom services;
- To protect consumers’ interest, monitor quality of services, inspect equipment used in networks and make recommendations about such equipment;
- To maintain a register of interconnect agreements and keep it open for inspection and to settle disputes among the service providers in this respect;
- To give advice to the government on any matter related to the telecom industry. Levy fees and charges for services and, ensure that universal service obligations are complied with; and
- To perform any such other administration and financial function as may be entrusted to it by the Central Government.