Singapore telcos may be required to provide breakdown of billing

Image credit: TY Lim | Shutterstock.com

The Straits Times reports that all telcos in Singapore could soon be required to provide a standardised breakdown of charges when billing customers, under new requirements proposed by the Infocomm Media Development (IMDA) on Wednesday (Feb 20).

IMDA had received feedback from consumers on how billing information can vary across service providers, with some telcos providing a more detailed breakdown than others.

Specifically, telcos will need to include charges for value-added or third-party services under the new Converged Code. The increased clarity will help facilitate the resolution of billing disputes, said IMDA.

Examples of such charges include those for roaming, Premium Rate Services (PRS), global SMS/MMS and excess usage.

Dozens of customers of the three major telcos Singtel, M1 and StarHub had taken to Facebook and online forums in February and March last year to complain of PRS charges for services they did not sign up for.

The move is among a raft of changes IMDA is seeking views on for its proposed converged competition code in a public consultation that ends on April 17.

The Converged Code merges the existing competition and consumer protection frameworks for the telecommunication and media markets so regulation can be applied more consistently across the two sectors. The follows the enactment of the Telecommunications (Amendment) Act in February 2017.

The review is necessary given advancements in digital and information technologies such as video streaming over the Internet and the evolution of business models.

Other key changes include requiring all telecommunication and pay TV service providers here to provide consumers a summary of the key terms and conditions in their contracts at the point of subscription.

Currently, the three major telecos are prohibited from making any disadvantageous mid-contract changes such as price increases or reductions of service features during the contract term. IMDA has proposed to extend the prohibition to all telecommunication licensees which would include virtual telcos such as Circles.Life and Zero1, which have entered the market over the last two years.

After reviewing comments received on the changes, IMDA plans to launch a second public consultation at the end of the year for a draft version of the Code.

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