REGULATORY UPDATE: TELECOM REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF INDIA - RECOMMENDATIONS ON ENCOURAGING DATA USAGE IN RURAL AREAS THROUGH PROVISIONING OF FREE DATA

With an aim to increase data connectivity and digital outreach, the TRAI has reiterated its stance and plans to offer 100 MB data to users in rural and remote areas for free. In its response to the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) queries, TRAI stayed with its recommendations that the Universal Services Obligation Fund be used for footing the bill for providing government-incentivised free data schemes to rural subscribers. Further, the TRAI in its reply to the queries posed to it made it clear that it seeks to focus on aspects such as data connectivity, data literacy, and digital outreach. The regulator backed its suggestion of adopting an aggregator model on the grounds that it ensured that telecom companies would get services in a randomised format while ruling out non-discriminatory behaviour for or against a telco by an aggregator. The model also ensured transparency as the aggregator has to declare the cost of providing free data to consumers. TRAI also stated any scheme provided by the aggregator must not involve any arrangement among it, the carrier or the content provider. Source: http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Recommendations_29112017_FreeData.pdf

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