Mobile subscribers will be able to activate or deactivate Internet services on their mobile phone by calling or sending an SMS to a new toll free number 1925 from next month onwards.
The new directive from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) follows a large number of complaints from customers that mobile operators were keeping the process of deactivation very complex to earn extra revenue.
The directive issued on Friday mandates telecom operators to provide toll free number ‘1925’ from September 1 to activate or deactivate mobile Internet service either by making a call on the number and following instruction or by sending a SMS.
Customers can send SMS to 1925 by writing ‘START’ to activate and ‘STOP’ to deactivate the service. Telecom operators will have to immediately reply to customer about status of activation and deactivation of their service.
The new amendment issued in Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations directs telecom operators not to charge subscribers for usage beyond subscribed limit without their explicit consent.
“No service provider shall activate or deactivate the data service on the Cellular Mobile Telephone connection of a consumer without his explicit consent,” Trai said.
Though provision to activate or deactivate a value added service has already been in place but telecom operators often refused complete deactivation of mobile Internet services.
“These complaints mainly relate to… non-availability of information relating to data usage… non-availability of information to consumers whenever the data pack is exhausted..activation of Internet service on mobile phones without the explicit consent of the consumer,” Trai said.
Under the new rule, the regulator has clarified that the consent of a mobile customer expires after the subscribed mobile Internet limit like 500MB, 1GB, 2GB etc., gets exhausted.
“Authority decided that those consumers taking data packs such as STV (special tariff voucher) or Combo Voucher or add-on pack will be deemed to have given their consent for data services. Such consent will be deemed to be only for the duration of validity of data pack or on exhausting the data limit, whichever is earlier,” the regulator said.
The difference in mobile Internet rates under scheme and without any scheme can be as high as 500 times.
The regulator has asked telecom operators to send alert to those customers who have not subscribed to mobile Internet service, but use it as per their need, after every 10 megabytes of data consumed by them. Consumers will also have an option to opt out of this alert.
Customers on international roaming will only get alert to switch off mobile Internet service on their handset if they are not using it.