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The mobile subscribers are at the mercy of the unruly tele-callers who end up making calls at the most unwanted hour. It has been a daily routine for the subscribers to bear such calls and SMS’.

According to data accessed from the telecom ministry 9,41,691 complaints  were received by service providers between 27 September, 2011 to 3 July, 2014 while the number of notices sent to unregistered telemarketers from 27 September, 2011 to 24 May, 2013 were 2,86,910.

A total of 4,94,688 of telephone disconnections of unregistered telemarketers were undertaken from September 7, 2011 to July 3, 2014. The data further shows that 8,25,404 connections were additionally disconnected on account of Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC) sent (proactive/call back numbers/entities).

The number of notices sent to telemarketers with deduction in their security deposit and total amount deducted so far from 27 September, 2011 to 3 July, 2014 were 4,03,173. While 20 telemarketers were blacklisted during the same dates, 2,24,341 unregistered tele marketers were blacklisted for two years till 3 July, 2014. Given the high frequency of pesky calls, each mobile subscriber today looks for a solution to stop these unwanted messages and calls.

Few years back the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), had introduced the DND (Do Not Disturb) service. A mobile subscriber could register his/her mobile number on DND and as per policy all unwanted messages and calls should have been stopped. But even after registering for the service, these calls and messages haven’t stopped even until now.  TRAI notified the ‘Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC) Regulations, 2007’ dated 5 June, 2007, putting in place a framework for controlling unsolicited commercial communications.

It envisaged establishment of a National Do Not Call (NDNC) Registry to facilitate registration of requests from customers who do not wish to receive UCC. To improve the effectiveness of the framework, TRAI had subsequently amended these regulations from time to time by issuing amendments,’ said union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the Rajya Sabha on 11 July, 2014.

‘In order to make the regulatory framework for curbing UCC more effective, TRAI issued ‘Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010’ on 1December, 2010.  
As per the provisions of the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010, registration of telemarketers has started on the web portal www.nccptrai.gov.in from 15 January, 2011.

Registration of customer preference on National Customer Preference Registry (NCPR) has started from 10 February, 2011. All the provisions of these regulations have come into force from 27 September, 2011,’ he added. Meanwhile the subscribers despite having the assurance from the operators, feel the heat of unwanted calls.

‘I receive so many spam SMS in a day that I have now lost interest in reading them. Sometimes even genuine text messages are kept unread or read after much delay due to this issue,’ says Om Prakash, an insurance company manager.

Very few people have stopped receiving calls from every unknown number, he adds. A large number of telemarketers did not register with the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) as required, TRAI said earlier. Telemarketers have also shifted from voice calls to short message service (SMS), it added.

The NDNC did not work very well also because many telephone users did not subscribe to the service. In a recent consultation paper, TRAI has proposed that subscribers should be instead offered an ‘opt-in’ option which requires them to register only if they want telemarketing calls, rather than the other way around. A number of countries are moving in this direction, according to TRAI.

Another option proposed by TRAI is to make it easier for subscribers to register with the NDNC through the use of toll free special numbers, and interactive voice response systems.

To force telemarketers to register with the DOT, TRAI is suggesting a ceiling on the maximum number of calls as well as SMS per day from a telephone number, wireless as well as wireline, so that it can force telemarketers to register with the telecommunications department.

Analysts are however not sure how this will work. Mobile subscribers are a large and affluent market for telemarketers. Even mobile service providers cannot sometimes resist the temptation to SMS their subscribers with a variety of unsolicited offers, they add.
Sunil Thapliyal

Sunil Thapliyal

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