Mobile operators will now have to give suggestions to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on ways to tackle the issue of unsolicited messages, and they have 15 days to comply.

The TRAI has been working towards the elimination of pesky SMSes since a while now, and this move is another step in that direction. In an open house discussion on the topic of unsolicited commercial communications (UCC) involving mobile operators, telemarketers, and consumer groups, TRAI Chairman, Rahul Khullar stated, “All of you have 15 days time (October 25)…You have to come back to me with any suggestions”. Khullar has further stated that if the mobile operators do not respond within 15 days with their suggestions, then TRAI would have to decide on the matter. “I have a practical problem on my hand and I want practical solution,” he said. 

Hoping for better services (Image credit: Getty Images)

TRAI will decide on its own, if operators do not comply (Image Credit: Getty Images)

The TRAI has in the draft of the 'Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference (Tenth Amendment) Regulations, 201'” put forth that there be “disconnection of resources of entities for whom the promotion is being carried out after ten violations”. The revised regulations are expected to be released by November 5. The draft regulation asks providers to put in place a mechanism to block the delivery of unsolicited SMS “with similar signatures from the source which sends more than a specified number of promotional SMS per hour.”

Khullar asked the operators to offer suggestions pertaining to fixing the limit for promotional SMSs; technical solutions, which can be implemented to block such messages; and the costs involved in this.

The draft regulation provisions that operators take an undertaking from customers that the SIM purchased shall not be used for telemarketing purposes. It also requires the operators to take an undertaking from transactional message sending entities to ensure that they would use only registered telemarketers for their promotional activities.

The draft regulation also suggests that consumers lodge complaints pertaining to such communication by sending an SMS to 1909. It asks telecom operators to inform subscribers via text messages at least twice a year against sending any commercial communication to others.

The regulations that were a part of the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010, were implemented only after September last year. As of March 29, 2012, TRAI has had a victorious march. The TRAI had allowed subscribers, who did not wish to receive unsolicited commercial calls and SMSes, to register their preferences under the National Customer Preference Register (NCPR). Little did the TRAI know that it would get a huge response from subscribers, who were quite understandably miffed with an endless stream of unwanted commercial calls and SMSes, citing promotional offers, new schemes, etc.

Now in an official release, the TRAI has let the numbers talk. As of March 29, 2012, a total of 161.66 million customers have registered their preferences on NCPR.

Reducing the number of pesky calls and SMSes, if not wiping them out completely became the agenda of the TRAI for a couple of years now. Acting on a host of complaints from harrowed users, the TRAI introduced the '100 SMS per day, per SIM' rule, which it then changed to '200 SMSes per day per SIM' to accommodate the personal messaging needs of users. All these rules were implemented in a bid to reduce the number of unwanted calls and text messages. Since TRAI began penalising mobile service providers with fines, it collected a fine of over Rs 6 lakh.

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