Operators to miss January 1 deadline, express inability to upgrade system before 4-6 months.
Telemarketing calls and short messaging services (SMSes) will continue into the new year for mobile and landline subscribers. Service providers have expressed inability to implement the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) by January 1.
The request for an extension of the deadline from operators comes amid a raging regulatory turf war over pesky calls between Trai and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The differences between the two could further delay things.
- National Do Not Call Registry set up in 2007
- Only 15-20 million users registered, out of a total base of 500-600 million
- On Dec 1, Trai came out with new regulations for NDNC
- New regulations come into force on Jan 1, 2011
- Operators seek time; implementation may be delayed by six months
Citing issues related to technical and network upgrade, operators have told Trai they will need 4-6 months for making the “Do Not Call Regulations” system operational. The telecom regulator had asked all service providers to put in place a system that would filter telemarketing calls and issue a separate series (70xxx) for all telemarketing lines. Trai had also put restrictions on SMSes to 100 per day.
An official said: “This means there will be a delay in implementing the guidelines and it could push the deadline to the end of next year.”
On December 1, Trai had issued a set of recommendations to curb unwanted commercial calls effective January 1, 2011. It had also suggested imposition of penalty up to Rs 2.5 lakh on erring telemarketing companies. Earlier, it was Rs 500-1,000.
“Many operators need time to implement Trai’s recommendations. The deadline of January 2011 is not feasible as there is a need for network and technical upgrade. We need time to set up the system and for testing. We have put forward our point with Trai and have told that we need about 4-6 months to implement the full recommendations,” said another person involved in the development.
However, the official said, some of the recommendations – such as stopping telemarketing calls and SMSes from 9 pm-9 am and setting up a dedicated complaint line for addressing problems related to telemarketing – can be put in place in 1-2 months. There are about 750 million telephone subscribers across the country.
Trai had come out with a fresh set of recommendations because the earlier “Do Not Call Registry” system did not make much of a difference.
Under the existing law – Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Call Regulation, 2007 – telemarketing companies have to register with DoT. But, while introducing the new set of rules, Trai had said it would be the sole authority for registration.
The new regulations said companies registered with DoT need to register themselves again with Trai. “The power and function of Trai under Section 11 of the Trai Act 1997 is very clear and does not include licensing or registration functions,” said a DoT official.