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“It has been observed that per second billing system is more acceptable among majority of the subscribers, because it ensures that subscribers pay only for the actual usage,” said TRAI
The Telecom Regulator Authority of India (TRAI) has made it mandatory for all telecom service providers to offer at least one, per paisa per second tariff plan. The sector regulator has also allowed telecom operators to have up to 25 different tariff plans, in total. Consumer organisations have lauded the move stating that it will brings more clarity in tariff plans. But they pointed that such plans need to be popularised as they are deliberately kept away from the users.
“The rationale of this order is to bring clarity to the tariff plans. Many a times people choose a plan based on less charges per seconds, but in the billing the calculation is entirely different. What is more important is that service providers should advertise these tariff plans aggressively instead of keeping consumer in the dark,” says Anil Prakashan, president, Telecom Users Group.
HK Awasthi, legal head at Consumer Voice, an online magazine on consumer awareness, seconds the view. “Since 96% of the subscribers are pre-paid, service providers should educate them about what really per pulses rate plans are and how are they calculated. It is a good move by the regulator.”
TRAI’s directive said, “In order to ensure that per second billing remains an assured alternative option for all subscribers, it has been decided to mandate that all service providers shall offer at least one pre-paid and one post-paid tariff plan with the pulse rate of one second for local and national long distance calls.”
The telecom regulator had analysed various tariff offers available in the market. It found all the service providers have per second billing plans. “It has been observed that per second billing system is more acceptable among majority of the subscribers, because it ensures that subscribers pay only for the actual usage,” said TRAI.
RK Verma, president, Chandigarh Telecom District Telephone Subscribers Association, told Moneylife that, “TRAI should only allow one tariff plan. Allowing so many plans only leads to confusion. All service providers have per paise per second plans. But they are hardly known to the consumers. All the details are available through the customer care department of the service provider. So customers who want to subscribe to such plans have to call the company’s customer care centre, for which they are charged.”
Meanwhile, TRAI has allowed telecom companies to charge up to four times the existing rates for premium services such as phone calls and text messages sent to participate in reality shows on TV and radio.
An analyst with a brokerage firm commented that it would take more cuts and a longer period of time for sentiments to revive because this is one single cut in interest rates, whereas over the last two years the RBI has raised rates 13 times
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may have slashed policy rates by 50 basis points (bps), but that wasn’t enough to lure in homebuyers. “While the rate cut of 50 basis points is definitely a ray of hope, this ray does not dispel the shadows as much as may be initially supposed. It is unlikely that residential property prices will come down because of this rate cut and it is the price of properties that is the decisive factor in residential real estate sales,” says Om Ahuja, CEO-Residential Services at Jones Lang LaSalle India.
Even for those who are hoping for a slight decrease in their EMIs (equated monthly installments) for home loans, it could turn out to be a dampener. “Banks are likely to wait for some time before incorporating the decreased rates,” said a spokesperson of State Bank of India.
Already, banks are stressed because the profit margins have been under pressure; despite offering higher interest on deposits the numbers have not gone up. “In such a situation it will be difficult to lend at a decreased rate,” said an official of HSBC Bank.
For homebuyers, things are not looking brighter. “I wouldn’t bother much if I have to pay Rs1,000 more or less per month when I am paying for a flat worth Rs60 lakh for over 10 years,” said Rahul Sadanand, who has bought a flat near Man Sarovar in Navi Mumbai. He added, “I would rather pay more per month and have the price of the flat reduced.”
To add to his worries, there are experts who believe that the situation is not going to be any different for at least a year. “Construction has stopped because the new Development Control Rules (DCR) has thrown everyone into a tizzy. On the contrary, builders are not willing to sell at a loss and are holding up prices. In such a case, hardly anyone is gaining by a measly cut,” said an analyst with a brokerage firm.
The analyst said that it would take more cuts and a longer period of time for sentiments to revive, because this is one single cut in interest rates whereas over the last two years, the RBI has raised rates 13 times. “And right now, we do not see any more cuts in some time,” he commented. He said that new home loan customers are more likely to enjoy the advantage, while people who are already paying their EMIs may have to continue with their old rates.
However, there seems to be a silver lining. The RBI has asked banks not to levy pre-payment charges on their customers, which may come as a relief.
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