Make labelling mandatory for broadband services

Business Line, April 21, 2017

A clutch of consumer organisations countrywide, including the Chennai-based Consumer Action Group (CAG), is pushing for mandatory labelling in broadband services. Led by Jaipur-based CUTS International, which came up with this idea, they want internet service providers (ISPs) to display labels stating average download speed at peak and non-peak hours, data usage available, costs involved, and other details.

S Saroja, Director, Consumer Advisory and Outreach, CAG, said that during the launch meeting of the project, the TRAI chairman, who participated, extended his support to the idea. According to her, 25-30 per cent of the complaints CAG receives regarding telecom relate to broadband speed. Speeds are lower than advertised at the time of sale. Further, they are not informed of the actual speed of their connection and bandwidth when signing up for the service.

Misleading claims by ISPs are rampant, says Saroja. The words “unlimited’ and ‘upto’ relating to broadband data and speed are used to lure consumers and delude them into thinking their browsing experience would be efficient.

Stating these details on the label means that ISPs are bound by a contract and are answerable to customers. Also, customers can make informed decisions based on standardised information, explains Saroja.

CUTS International will release an animated film to reach out to the stakeholders in this category. CAG will be holding a training workshop in Chennai to sensitise everyone concerned with this issue. Once TRAI releases a consultation paper on the subject, the process to make the labels mandatory would be initiated, says Saroja.

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