The telecom regulator will look into concerns flagged by the industry on implementation of new pesky call rules, while the serious issue of unsolicited telemarketing calls and messages cannot be “undermined”, Trai chief R S Sharma said.
Sharma — who has been re-appointed TRAI Chairman for two more years — said that he has directed his officials to call operators for a meeting soon to understand their grievances around unsolicited commercial communication.
His comments that the regulator will give operators a patient hearing on the matter assumes significance as there has been a disquiet in the industry over the new unsolicited commercial communication norms.
Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) had raised red flag over Trai’s (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) new rules on curbing pesky calls and messages, terming them complex, time-consuming and devoid of a cost-benefit analysis.
“I have asked my officers to call the operators…understand from them…there may be a communication gap between what regulations say and what the operators understand…there could be some implementation issues, so we will discuss with them and see where the problem lies,” Sharma said.
Trai plans to sit with the operators and talk about their difficulties and perceived problem areas, he said but added in the same breath that the issue of pesky calls was a “serious” one, and “must not be undermined”.
“The problem has to be tackled and all shareholders must come together to tackle this common problem. We must see to it that compliance burden does not fall unduly on one stakeholder,” the Trai chief said.
Voicing concerns over the freshly-minted rules, COAI has maintained that tailoring of systems, and use of blockchain technology will involve Rs 200-400 crore cost and 18 months for the roll out, at a crucial time when the sector is financially-stressed.
The implementation timeline indicated by the industry body exceed the stipulated December deadline for operationalising the new system architecture.
COAI has also rued that other markets have not prescribed such stringent requirements and obligations for operators.
The new rules in this regard allow individuals to revoke permission that they have granted to any commercial entity for a service. Subscribers can set preference about days and time bands on which they would like to receive commercial communications as well as indicate preferred modes of communication – call or SMS.
The rules lay down obligations for operators, including evolving code of practices, maintaining records, registering customer choice, and mandate the adoption of blockchain or the distributed ledger technology. Blockchain provides a decentralised database or digital ledger of transactions that everyone on the network can see.