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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has come up with a revised regulation to put an end to unsolicited calls and messages. Trai has taken a step forward from its earlier initiative of establishing a “National Do Not Call Registry" (NDNCR), which didn’t really serve the purpose for which it was instituted—to make registered numbers unavailable to telemarketeers.

What’s new

Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Fourth Amendment) Regulations, 2011, to be implemented from 21 March, will allow customers to register for “Do Call" or “Do Not Call" options. This means you can register to either receive calls and SMSes from specified categories or not to receive any commercial communication at all.

Even if you don’t register your number under the National Customer Preference Register (NCPR), the new name for the NDNCR, you will be able to identify calls from telemarketeers as a unique number series will be allotted to them. Moreover, promotional communication will be allowed only between 9am and 9pm.

NCPR will be shared with service providers to enable them to scrub telephone databases and a system will be put in place to filter and auto-block such unsolicited calls and messages. The time taken to register has been reduced to seven days from the earlier 45 days and this time period will be further reduced.

The penalty

“Earlier the provisions to ensure compliance were not effective," said the Trai official earlier quoted. To address this, telemarketeers will now be identified while granting connections. Their services will be disconnected at the sixth violation and they will be blacklisted. Once blacklisted they will not be provided any telecom resources across networks and states for two years.

Should you register

Would you miss out on any important communication if you register for this? “It really depends on what you consider important," says Rajan Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India.

Communication has been classified into transactional and promotional. Details and alerts specific to you are transactional; communication introducing you to a new scheme or product is promotional. For instance, if you have an account with a certain bank, then calls from that bank pertaining to debits and credits to your account are transactional and will come through. But calls from the same bank about the launch of a new credit card are promotional and will not come through if you have blocked them.

In 2007, Trai had put in place a framework through Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulations, 2007. It also set up the NDNCR. Despite these measures, till March 2010, a total of 340,231 complaints regarding unsolicited calls and messages were received, according to a Trai notification. About 65,000 complaints are received every month, adds the notification.

“They have put in place a robust set of parameters and a double check. We will have to see how networks cope up with this and how well it works," says Mathews. So it’s still to be seen how effective the new regulation would be.

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