Consumer benefit and competitive rates in the objective of TRAI's recommendations on Value Added Services to the government.
on 13 Feb 09 TRAI released Recommendations on Growth of Value Added Services and Regulatory Issues. The value added service (VAS) market in India has a great potential for growth and the revenue is expected to reach above INR 250 billion by the year 2009-10 and more than 30% of the revenue of the telecom access service providers in the next 5-7 years.
Considering the comments received from stakeholders during the consultation process, the Authority had formulated draft of its recommendations on Value Added Services, including Mobile Value Added Services to be provided through 2G, 3G and Next Generation Network (NGN) etc. Keeping in view the comments received during the two rounds of consultation, the Authority has now sent its recommendations to the Government on growth of value added services and regulatory issues. These recommendations are expected to pave the way forward for orderly growth of value added services and consumers will also be benefited with new and enhanced services/value added services at competitive rates.
The Key Recommendations:
• Definition of value added services is recommended to be redefined in the context of new value added services that may come up in the 3G and NGN environment as “Value added services are enhanced services, in the nature of non-core services, which add value to the basic teleservices and bearer services, the core services being standard voice calls, voice/non-voice messages, fax transmission and data transmission”.
• The requirement for uniformity in various licenses and amendment of various access service licence agreements to pave way for growth of Value Added Services particularly in mobile 2G/3G and Next Generation Network environment.
• In order to give soft touch regulatory environment, the Authority has not recommended any separate category of licence or registration for value added services.
• DoT being National Numbering Plan administrator may make appropriate arrangement for allocation of common short codes (CSCs), for specific service areas or on an all India basis, for value added services and also may evolve fee concept for such allocation of common short codes (CSCs).
• The Telecom Access Service Providers need to provide fair access to their telecom infrastructure to independent content providers and maintain transparency in their MIS relating to value added services for reconciliation.
• Reconciliation of the Management Information System (MIS) and calibration of the MIS between the access service providers and the VASPs/ content providers may form part of the mutual negotiations between the access service providers and VASPs/content providers. This will bring confidence in the value added services value chain and will also improve reconciliation process.
• Dispute redressal between VASP and telecom access service provider may also form part of the commercial agreement between the telecom access service provider and value added service provider.
• Mutual commercial agreements between telecom access service providers and content providers/ content aggregators for revenue share in the provisioning of value added services remains the model.
• Telecom access service providers need to publish the charges for value added services. Further, the access charges shall also be published, if such access charges are different than the charges under the tariff plan applicable to consumers and are not included in the charges of VAS.
• Content shall be subject to relevant content regulation and compliance of prevailing copyrights including digital management rights and other laws on the subject. There should be no determination in the treatment of content across all kinds of media including print, digital/multimedia.
• TRAI may issue guidelines on consumer best practices to protect the interest of consumers.
The full text of the Recommendations is available on TRAI’s website: www.trai.gov.in.