The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is the main telecommunications regulator in India. Read here to know more about the agency.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was, thus, established with effect from 20th February 1997 by an Act of Parliament, called the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
TRAI was set up to regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services that were earlier vested in the Central Government.
The entry of private service providers brought with it the inevitable need for independent regulation, hence TRAI was established.
TRAI’s mission is to create and nurture conditions for the growth of telecommunications in the country in a manner and pace which will enable India to play a leading role in the emerging global information society.
The head office of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is located in New Delhi.
Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT):
The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from 24 January 2000, establishing a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.
TDSAT was set up to adjudicate any dispute between a:
- licensor and a licensee,
- between two or more service providers,
- between a service provider and a group of consumers, and
- to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction, decision, or order of TRAI.
The TDSAT consists of a Chairperson and two other members, all to be appointed by the Central Government.
- The selection of members is made by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
- A person shall not be qualified for appointment as the Chairperson unless they are or have been a Supreme Court Judge or the High Court Chief Justice.
- Other Members must have held the post of Secretary to the Government of India or any equivalent post in the Central/State Government.
The Chairperson and the other members of TDSAT shall hold office for a term of a maximum of four years or seventy years (for the Chairperson), whichever is earlier.
- In the case of members other than the Chairperson, the maximum age is sixty-five years.
Removal of Members:
The conditions for removal of any member of the Tribunal are the same as those of the TRAI.
Jurisdiction of TDSAT:
- The civil courts do not have jurisdiction to entertain any matter which the TDSAT is empowered to determine.
- An order passed by TDSAT is executable as a decree of a civil court, the Tribunal has all the powers of a civil court.
- It is not bound by the procedure laid down by the Code of Civil Procedure but guided by the principles of natural justice.
- The Tribunal has the power to regulate its own procedure.
- The penalties for the offences that come under the jurisdiction of TDSAT are the same as those of TRAI.
Objectives of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
One of the main objectives of TRAI is to provide a fair and transparent policy environment that promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
- TRAI has issued from time to time a large number of regulations, orders, and directives to deal with issues coming before it and provided the required direction to the evolution of the Indian telecom market from a Government owned monopoly to a multi-operator multi-service open competitive market.
The directions, orders, and regulations are issued to cover a wide range of subjects including tariff, interconnection, and quality of service as well as governance of the authority.
Composition of TRAI
The TRAI consists of:
- A Chairperson,
- two whole-time members and
- two part-time members
All of whom are appointed by the Government of India.
The Chairperson and other members shall hold their office for a term of three years or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- The Chairperson has the powers of general superintendence. He/She presides over the meetings of the TRAI.
The Central Government may appoint one of the members of the Authority as the Vice-Chairperson of TRAI.
- The vice-chairperson exercises and discharges the powers and functions of the Chairperson in his/her absence.
The Central Government is empowered to remove any member of the TRAI if he/she:
- has been adjudged an insolvent
- has been convicted of an offense that involves moral turpitude
- has become physically or mentally incapable of acting as a member
- has abused his/her position, rendering his/her continuance in office prejudicial to the public interest.
Functions of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
- To recommend the need for and timing of introduction of new service providers and terms and conditions of the license to a service provider;
- To ensure technical compatibility and inter-connect between different service providers and regulate their revenue-sharing arrangements;
- To ensure compliance with terms of license and revaluation of the same for non-compliance;
- To lay down and ensure a time period for providing long-distance and local distance circuits;
- To facilitate competition and promote efficiency in operations to promote the growth of telecom services;
- To protect consumers’ interest, monitor the quality of services, inspect equipment used in networks, and make recommendations about such equipment;
- To maintain a register of interconnect agreements and keep it open for inspection and settle disputes among the service providers in this respect;
- To give advice to the government on any matter related to the telecom industry. Levy fees and charges for services and, ensure that universal service obligations are complied with; and
- To perform any such other administration and financial function as may be entrusted to it by the Central Government.
The rules and regulations for the 5G role out in the country are being overseen by TRAI, as they revealed the auction of the 5G spectrum in 2022.
Powers of TRAI
- It can call upon any service provider to furnish in writing the information or explanation relating to its affairs as the Authority may require.
- The Authority may appoint one or more persons to make an inquiry in relation to the affairs of any service provider.
- It is empowered to direct any of its officers or employees to inspect the books of accounts or other documents of any service provider.
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India shall have the power to issue such directions to service providers as it may consider necessary for proper functioning by service providers.
Other Acts and Policies connected to TRAI
- Indian Telegraph Act,1885
- The Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933
- Cable Television Network Act 1995
- Cable Television Network (Regulation) Amendment Act
- Cable Television Network Rules 1994
- The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2011
- Cable Television Networks (First Amendment) Rules, 2012
- Cable Television Networks (Second Amendment) Rules, 2012
- National Telecom Policy 1994
- New Telecom Policy 1999
- Broadband Policy 2004
- National Telecom Policy 2012