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IMDA plans to regulate for more transparent telco bills
THE Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is planning new rules to make telco bills more transparent, it said on Wednesday.
The change is among those proposed under a new converged competition code for the telecommunication and media markets, with the IMDA calling for public consultation for these changes.
The IMDA has proposed to require a list of minimum billing information to be included in end users’ bills, saying that the details provided in bills now vary across service providers.
"With a wide range of services being provided by licensees, IMDA proposes for service providers to include a breakdown of charges for service subscription, value-added, ad hoc and third-party services. End users’ bills should also indicate where services are provided on a trial or complimentary basis and the expiry date of such services," it said.
It added that such clarity in billing information will promote transparency and avoid billing disputes, benefiting both consumers and service providers.
The IMDA will also look to boost consumers’ understanding of contractual terms, proposing to have all telecommunication licensees provide a critical information summary that states concisely the key terms and conditions to consumers at the point of subscription.
It has as well proposed to extend the prohibition on "detrimental" mid-contract changes - such as price increase or reduction of service features - by telecommunication licensees, to all licensees.
It has also proposed to cut the regulatory burden on licensees by adopting a “market-by-market” assessment before classifying any licensee as dominant in new markets. Right now, a dominant telecommunication licensee is assumed to be dominant in all telecommunication markets it participates in, unless the licensee objects.
"In view of the level of competition that has emerged over the years in many telecommunication markets, as well as the emergence of new markets and services such as Over-the-Top applications, IMDA proposes not to presume dominance for new services offered by a dominant licensee in new markets, until IMDA has assessed it to be so," the agency said.
"IMDA believes this approach will provide more incentives for licensees to innovate and offer new services to benefit consumers."
The proposed Converged Code is aimed at promoting competition, boosting consumer protection and improving regulatory clarity to encourage licensees to develop new and innovative services. The agency is developing a converged competition code for the Singapore telecommunication and media markets to streamline requirements.
It will also seek views on how the increased use and importance of data and algorithms in a digital economy would affect the telecommunication and media markets, and whether existing regulatory frameworks continue to be relevant.
The IMDA plans to retain the requirement for Pay TV service providers to allow consumers to exit their fixed-term contracts without any penalty if there are "detrimental" material changes to the contract, such as a significant reduction in the total number of channels.
The public consultation will close on April 17, 2019. More details can be found at https://www.imda.gov.sg/regulations-licensing-andconsultations/consultations/consultation-papers/2019/consultation-for-convergedcompetition-code