We are not your PR, says TRAI chairman R S Sharma to telecos

New Delhi: Unfazed by industry’s criticism of some past decisions, TRAI chairman R S Sharma has asserted that the regulator is not into a PR role, but is, rather, doing its job transparently with wide stakeholder consultation in the interest of consumers and the sector.

Sharma said legal options are available for anyone not happy with a particular regulation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

“I don’t think we are into a PR (public relations) exercise. We are doing our jobs to the best of our capabilities. There may be situations where some stakeholders may not be happy with the decision we take, and I have maintained that appropriate forum to challenge these are the legal forum,” he said.

The approach of TRAI has never been one of taking arbitrary action, and each and every decision, order, or regulation has been backed by ‘full consultation and full transparency’, he noted.

“We don’t do anything without consultation or dialogue. But our purpose is not to establish PR. Our purpose is to do our job effectively,” Sharma said.

His comments assume significance as TRAI’s past decisions from slashing of the call connect charges, to its stance on a provision of points of the internet (sought by Reliance Jio at the start of its services), and predatory pricing rules have come under blistering attack by established operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.

Earlier this year, TRAI’s predatory pricing rules sparked off a furore as older players and industry body Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) slammed the new norms. The COAI had indicated that the order distorted the market, placing all operators, except one (it had not named Reliance Jio) at a serious disadvantage.

The fiery TRAI chief has firmly stood his ground all through and maintained that while he takes telecom industry’s ‘fair criticism’ in his stride, the levelling of allegations of bias without any proof bothers him as it discredits and lowers the institution’s esteem.

COAI has urged the TRAI chairman to outline his major focus areas and priorities for the next two years, so the industry can look to ‘predictable’ and stable regulatory environment’ crucial for its growth.