The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has finally added network service providers and other organizations like banks and insurance companies under its scanner in order to control the unsolicited commercial activities like bulk SMSes, by issuing a new regulation to tighten the framework to control the SMS menace.
According to “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Thirteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2013” now telecom operators will be fined for Rs 5,000 for each verified-compliant against an unregistered telemarketer sending unsolicited SMSes or following other such modes of Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC) to subscribers registered under DND. TRAI had recently passed a stringent regulation to fine the commercial telemarketers sending bulk SMS to users, but it still continued to receive complaints from users against such service providers.
“The Authority has noted with concern, the continued problem faced by customers receiving UCC from persons who are not registered as telemarketers. Such persons deliberately masquerade as normal subscribers for engaging in telemarketing activities. The major reason for not registering with TRAI is that such telemarketers avoid payment of registration fees, promotional SMS charge of five paise per SMS and are able to reach out to even those customers who are registered in the National Customer Preference Register as they are outside the ambit of the restrictions imposed by TRAI,” the regulator stated.
TRAI has made it mandatory for a service provider to submit a list of all bulk connections provided during the preceding month, latest by the 15th of every month. It has also mentioned that if a compliant against any such communication activity by an entity like banks, insurance companies, builders will be verified, these will be liable for actions like disconnection of services across all service providers, after serving notices each on the first and the second complaint.
The Regulator also rapped carriers for encouraging these activities, accusing them of knowingly flouting guidelines laid down by the Department of Telecommunications. “Availability of cheap SMS packs marketed by service providers and engagement of such telemarketers by persons or agencies for sending their promotional messages etc are the other reasons for the continued menace of UCC by such persons. The Authority has observed that such telemarketing activities are encouraged by service providers by providing attractive SMS packages and by allowing bulk/multiple connections, without following the CAF directives issued by the Department of Telecommunication, though they are fully aware that these could be used for telemarketing activities.”