Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has found Idea Cellular guilty of overcharging its customers in four states – Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. The telecom regulator has penalized the company of Rs 2,97,90,173 after it found out that Idea has levied differential tariffs in the four states from a period of May 2005 to January 2007.
“The Authority has come to the conclusion that the differential tariffs levied by private GSM operators operating in the aforesaid four States of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamilnadu and UP for calls terminating in the network of BSNL/ MTNL from one service area to other service area within the same State, is discriminatory and inconsistent with the amended licence conditions notified by DoT on 20/5/2005,” TRAI said in a statement.
The regulator also notes that since the amount cannot be refunded to the subscribers due to non-availability of rated CDRs (call detail record), the amount has to be deposited in Telecom Consumers Education and Protection Fund (TCEPF). The idea has been instructed to report compliance with 15 days of issue of this direction.
The whole matter came out into limelight when Idea Cellular has found guilty of overcharging its customers in those four states. The regulator found out that Idea was charging calls as intra-service area calls for the purpose of call routing. This means users were charged higher than other operators for calling from one area to another in in the same state. The regulator further said that it has received many complaints from subscribers regarding the differential higher tariffs when they are were calling one service area to another service area within the same state.
“The Authority has also noted that the said action of the operators is preventing the consumers from getting full advantage of the Government decision to allow inter-service area connectivity within the aforesaid four States,” TRAI added.