Dheeraj Kumar, a real estate broker here and frequent traveller,
finally hopes he will be spared from the unwanted calls from tele-marketing
firms and the hole they burn in his wallet following new norms
announced by the telecom watchdog.
Experts also agree that this time the penalty on errant companies
that can stretch up to Rs.250,000 will be a major deterrent. But
what worry them now are the unregistered tele-marketing companies,
even though the new rules cover them as well.
"I can't skip calls from unknown numbers. But by accepting these
unwanted calls all that I got were inflated bills. This was
particularly unfair when I was abroad. You know how expensive
international roaming is," Kumar said.
"I hope people now get some respite," Kumar told IANS speaking
about himself and also those among the nearly 690-million mobile
phone subscribers who have been bothered day-in and day-out by
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) realised its
previous attempt to curb unsolicited calls had not really worked
and accordingly announced a set of new measures. The salient
features of the regulations, to become effective from Jan 1, are:
-Defaulting firms to pay fine of Rs.25,000 for first offence,
stretching to Rs.250,000;
-Customers can choose to block all calls or allow messages/calls
under seven categories:
finance, realty, education, health, consumer goods, entertainment
-Telemarketeers to be allocated numbers starting with "70" for
-No communication allowed from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.;
-Customer registration to be activated within seven days instead
of 45 days; and
-Banks and insurance firms can only send messages on transactions,
To address the possible misuse by unregistered tele-marketers, the
telecom watchdog has also proposed that individuals cannot get a
package that permits more than 100 SMSs per day. And those in
existence have to be withdrawn from Jan 1.
Experts like Mahesh Uppal, director of consultancy ComFirst India,
feel the new norms have some limitations when it comes to
unregistered tele-marketing firms -- they have been the bigger
menace in the past and may continue to be so.
"If I open a shop, I can send bulk SMSs to 50 people to advertise
my shop. But it will be very difficult for the operator to cancel
my number just after a complaint from an individual customer,"
But a top official at the telecom watchdog said enough provisions
are there to deal with such issues. "If found that tele-marketing
activities are being done by an unregistered person, the phone can
be cut and penalty imposed after notice," he said.
Pradeep S. Mehta, secretary general of the non-profit rights
organisation Consumer Unity and Trust Society, says the rules and
regulations are comprehensive. Much now matters on how they are
"These are all welcome steps. The main concern is unregistered
tele-marketeers. Such promoters can have multiple mobile numbers.
It is, therefore, important to see how the telecom watchdog deals
with them," Mehta told IANS.
At the same time, another set of stake-holders are also quite
happy with the new norms -- the service providers themselves, as
evident from the remarks of Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of
India's largest mobile phone group, Bharti Airtel.
"Many a time we as operators are unfairly blamed. These calls also
block our networks. I am really hoping with the new
recommendations, there will be an end to the menace our customers
have to go through."
(Priyanka Sahay can be
reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org)
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