TRAI delays ban on pesky calls

 Mobile subscribers may have to wait for some more time to get relief from unsolicited calls and SMSes as telecom regulator TRAI is likely to postpone the January deadline to bring an end to such calls to February 1.
On December 1, 2010, the regulator had come out with guidelines on unsolicited telemarketing calls and SMSes, to be implemented from January 1, 2011. According to TRAI sources, the telecom operators will delay the implementation by a month because of certain security concerns. Now, the registration of the telemarketers and subscribers will start from January 15.

According to industry sources, the telecom operators need time to meet contractual obligations with various telemarketing companies for which they require at least three to four months and that is the reason they are seeking more time to implement TRAI guidelines on pesky calls.

"We have approached TRAI to give telecom operators some more time to comply with the necessary security concerns. During the period, they will also be able to set-up their infrastructure to filter the calls to stop unsolicited telemarketing," GSM mobile operators' association (COAI) director general Rajan S Mathew said.

The major operators in the country are Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Tele Services and Idea Cellular. However, industry sources added telecom operators have approached TRAI and department of telecom (DoT) to seek up to four-month extension to set-up proper infrastructure that can be put in place to stop the telemarketing calls.

"It is unlikely that telecom operators will meet the January 1 deadline, as it needs time to put in place infrastructure so that you can filter the calls and stop pesky calls. The operators seek one to four months to comply with TRAI's guidelines," AUSPI secretary general S C Khanna said.

Earlier, TRAI in its guidelines had said a hefty penalty of up to Rs 2.50 lakh will be imposed for violation of the telemarketing guidelines, which could be followed by blocking repeat offenders' connections.

A different set of numbers starting with '70' will be issued to telemarketers so that any unregistered subscribers can identify commercial calls and decide whether to accept or reject them. Unlike the previous guidelines, which only provided for a 'Do Not Call' Registry, the regulations issued today give customers different options to avoid unsolicited calls.

The subscriber can now choose to be listed under the "fully blocked" category -- which is akin to the 'Do Not Call' Registry -- or the "partially blocked" category, in that case he/she will only receive SMSes in the categories chosen by him/her. Trai has identified seven categories for telemarketing calls, including banking and financial products, real estate, education, health, consumer goods and automobiles, communication and entertainment, tourism and leisure.

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