As part of its key initiative on Consumer Broadband Labels that advocates for creating a standard information disclosure mechanism to empower consumer choice for broadband internet services, CUTS International organised a seminar titled ‘Empowering India Digitally – Enhancing Broadband Quality & Enabling Consumer Choice’. There is a significant need to improve Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) for broadband consumers through an effective and transparent information disclosure mechanism, a common international practice that needs to tie-in to the current regulatory governance of TRAI and DoT.
Supporting the initiative, Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary - Department of Telecommunications, expressed “The telecom sector needs to open doors for more disruptive innovations, along with strengthening consumer protection and rights. She further added that with 40 to 50 million annual consumer complaints in the telecom sector, organisations like CUTS also have a responsibility to keep voicing issues to ensure more progressive steps are taken for consumer welfare.” Ram Sewak Sharma, Chairman - TRAI, mentioned, “Quality disclosure and transparent norms are one of the most important components of service delivery. India needs Open Sky Policy and new Technologies by promoting competition to ensure that players come up with solutions to provide quality telecom services for consumers.”
In addition to this, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament - Rajya Sabha, opined “Consumer is the main stakeholder in the telecom sector. Structural reforms in telecom sector over past of four years have placed consumers in the centre empowered with consumer rights and choices. We need clear legally enshrined consumer rights in the telecom services sector and the new Telecom Policy will be a step in that direction.” On behalf of CUTS International, Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director - CUTS International, expressed that as a consumer organisation, CUTS would like to work more closely with TRAI and DoT to cater to the needs of telecom consumers, considering the large volumes of complaints against service providers.
The conference also witnessed the official release of an animation film, which highlights common Quality of Service (QoS) challenges faced by consumers on broadband services, information asymmetry & related challenges and advocates for the need for adoption of consumer broadband labels in India. A research report on the subject was also released during this session that covered key recommendations on developing a model broadband label as well as suggest critical areas to strengthen the current disclosure mechanism in India. The conference was attended by close to 100 participants from various stakeholder groups like telecom service providers, civil society consumer groups, government officials and the media.