Need for broadband labelling in India

It is quite timely to adopt broadband in India to empower consumer choice

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CUTS International recently organized a conference in India International Centre, New Delhi on designing a nutrition label for broadband services in India. 

Such a label will provision complete information disclosure by the Broadband providers, on Quality of Service (QoS), in a standard format, to consumers. This may result in safeguarding consumers from misleading advertisements, unfair contractual terms, practice of non-disclosures and most importantly, help them choose between services.

Ram Sevak Sharma, chairman TRAI, said: “Quality of broadband services in India remains a huge concern. Broadband Infrastructure growth is as low as 1.5%, with no further growth in wired connectivity since last 15-20 years. However, wireless connectivity has experienced stupendous growth of almost 90 percent in recent times. 

"The Indian telecom industry has 1 billion consumer base, but the transaction value of products and services is low. If a consumer suffers call drop or poor data connectivity, the consumer may not take the route of consumer courts as the model and processes are too complex and unfeasible to justify the low transaction value. 

"Hence, with consumers having less choices and complex grievance redressal mechanisms, the idea of having a broadband label is significant, path-breaking and will help consumers in making an informed choice. Internet service providers must disclose a minimum average speed for consumers. 

"With other parts of the world already implementing such labels, the time is right for India to also consider such a mechanism. The deliberations and recommendations today will help TRAI to prepare an appropriate consultation paper for future stakeholder discussions.”

Hem Pande, former Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, said: “Consumers must be united and aware in these times. The Department of Consumer Affairs represented by Shri P V Rama Shastry, Joint Secretary has recommended amendments via the Consumer Protection Bill 2015, which is expected to be discussed in parliament soon.”

During the event, a panel discussion titled, “Information Disclosure through Labels for Broadband Services”, deliberated on the mechanism of labelling for information disclosure for broadband service. 

Another panel discussion titled, “Transparency & Accountability for Broadband Services”, deliberated on the issues with transparency and accountability, on the part of operators, for the broadband services they render.

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