NEW DELHI: While the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has so far received Rs 1.52 crore as penalty from registered telemarketers, the government has admitted that Unsolicited Commercial Communications (SMSs or calls) from persons not registered as telemarketers has not ceased.
Such individuals deliberately masquerade themselves as “normal subscribers” even though their primary purpose for obtaining telecom resources is for telemarketing activities, according to Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Milind Deora. However, he felt TRAI’s regulatory interventions have largely tempered the menace of Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC).
A total of 1.4 million telephones of unregistered telemarketers have been disconnected till 31 January and 1,80,000 Unregistered Telemarketers were blacklisted for two years till 31 January.
With the implementation of these measures, the number of complaints regarding receipt of UCC from unregistered telemarketers has come down from around 45,000 per month in the month of August 2012 to around 12,000 per month in January 2014.
The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulation 2010 has laid down a revised framework for UCC. These regulations came into force with effect from 27 September 2011. The National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC) has been renamed National Customer Preference Register (NCPR). The Telemarketers after registration from TRAI get permission to access the National Customer Preference Register (NCPR).
TRAI has been continuously reviewing this regulation and accordingly issued fourteen amendments to the regulation and a number of directions to make the regulatory framework more effective and stringent. The regulation provides for imposition of penalty against registered telemarketers, to be recovered from the security deposit with the service provider.
The regulator has been taking various steps to rein in unregistered telemarketers from sending unsolicited commercial communications to customers registered in the National Customer Preference Register.
The recent initiatives taken by TRAI under this regulation include preventing unregistered telemarketers from misusing concessional SMS packs or tariff plans for sending bulk promotional SMSs, a price restraint has been placed on sending of more than one hundred SMS per day per SIM. The subscriber is free to send SMSs beyond this number, however, all such SMSs sent beyond one hundred SMS per day per SIM shall be charged at a rate not lower than 50 ‘paise’ per SMS.
To restrict unregistered telemarketers from sending bulk promotional SMSs using software applications, Access Providers have been mandated to put in place a solution, which will ensure that no commercial SMSs are sent having same or similar characters or strings or variants from any source or number. The solution will ensure that no more than 200 SMSs with such similar ‘signature’ are sent in an hour.
For increasing consumer awareness and to caution against misuse, Access Providers have been mandated to send SMS to all customers on periodic basis, advising them not to send any commercial communications and informing them about the consequences of misuse.
The unregistered telemarketer’s number will be disconnected and his name and address will be blacklisted for a period of two years. No telecom resources shall be provided to such subscribers for two years.