Regulator’s move on telemarketing calls unfair: operators


New Delhi : Indian telecom operators Tuesday decried the industry regulator’s move to impose monetary penalties for unsolicited telemarketing calls and SMSs made to the subscriber.

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Monday announced the amendment of the Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC) Regulations.

“(The) amendment is most unfair to the industry and we are all greatly discouraged and concerned that the authority is seeking to impose penalties on service providers for the unsolicited commercial calls made by telemarketing agencies over whom the service providers have little or no control,” the operators said in a letter to TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra.

The letter has been written by leading cellular bodies – Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India – representing mobile operators offering services under both GSM and CDMA technologies.

“It is this poor compliance by the telemarketers and their concerned institutions that needs to be urgently addressed to protect the consumers not demotivate the service providers through penalties for actions for which they are not responsible,” the operators complained.

The COAI and AUSPI said the service providers have no method to verify whether a particular telemarketer has checked the numbers in the registry before making such calls or SMS.

“The entire industry is completely discouraged by this regulation since we have all been going out of our way and making all possible efforts to put in systems so as to enable the authority’s UCC regulation to be effective.

“We also respectfully urge that suitably powerful actions be directed by the authority at the real sources of the problem, i.e. the errant telemarketers and their customer-institutions, so as to effectively protect our customers and end-users,” it said.

According to the proposed new rules, an operator will be charged Rs.5,000 for the first unwarranted telemarketing call or SMS made to a subscriber, who is registered with the National Do Not Call (NDNC) Registry.

The operator would be charged Rs.20,000 for every subsequent call.

In October last year, TRAI had set up the NDNC Registry where subscribers who do not wish to be called could log in their numbers for the telemarketers to see and not call them.

Till date, about 13,600 telemarketers have got themselves registered with the Department of Telecommunication against an estimated 75,000, the letter noted.

However, while an amicable solution to the problem seems unlikely in the coming months, it is once again the consumers who stand to lose.