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Telcos Should Run Media Campaigns To Check Pesky Calls, Messages: TRAI

The sector regulator has directed all phone companies to run media campaigns to boost awareness levels among mobile users on ways to register their consent/preferences in case of pesky calls and text messages, and also create a facility for lodging complaints if the menace persists.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in a directive issued late Monday night, said telcos “need to run media campaigns in at least two leading national newspapers to make customers aware of measures they need to take to curb the menace of unsolicited commercial communications,” adding that this needs to be done within 15 days of the issue of this direction.

Telcos, it said, would also “need to share details with mobile users of the relevant web portal/apps created” in their upcoming media campaign on ways to rein in pesky calls and text messages.

Back in July 2018, TRAI had issued rules, making it mandatory for phone companies to seek subscriber consent for receiving unsolicited commercial communications or unwanted calls or messages from telemarketers. It had also then called for deployment of blockchain – or digital ledger technology (DLT) used to manage crypto-currencies — to ensure telemarketing messages are sent only to subscribers from authorised entities.

Under those regulations, companies that wish to connect with interested mobile users have to confirm their identity through a system of “headers” registered in their name, and telcos need to provide a mechanism to digitally record and revoke consent of their customers.

In its latest direction though, TRAI has rebuked telcos over “lack of progress shown by access providers” in migrating to blockchain technology for combat pesky calls.

“Out of roughly 9 lakh unique headers existing in the market, only a negligible number have been registered by principal entities as per information provided by access providers (read: telcos),” said the regulator in its directive. Principal entities, typically, include banks, e-commerce companies who want to send commercial communications to mobile users.

Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio Infocomm – though dismissed the allegation saying “it would be unfair” to say telcos haven’t done enough to curb the menace of unwanted calls and text messages”.

“Our telco members have deployed considerable resources to implement blockchain technology to prevent unsolicited commercial communications, and expect to be fully compliant by end-February,” said Mathews.

He said telcos are “working closely with all stakeholders, including banks, aggregators, registrars whose participation is critical for combatting this menace,” adding that phone companies have “even redesigned mobile networks to integrate the mandated technology solutions, given the sheer complexity of digitally capturing diverse consumer choice and integrating the same into their existing databases”.

TRAI has been examining the issue of unwanted calls and text messages since 2007 and brought out the first regulation in 2011. Although the regulator established the DND Registry in 2010, it acknowledged in May 2018 that new rules were needed as the registry had failed to rein in the menace. It eventually launched the DND app in June 2017, but that didn’t help.―Gadgets Now

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