Finally, over 800 million telecom users in India may get relief from unwarranted calls and SMSes, with the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) slated to announce a dedicated landline number series that can be used to identify telemarketers within a month.
"DoT has sorted the issue to allot the number series for landline consumers with the security agencies. Now, its a matter of another one month that consumers will get much needed relief from the unsolicited calls and SMSes," a senior telecom ministry official said.
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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), to put a check on unsolicited calls and SMSes, had asked DoT to allocate an easily identifiable number series for telemarketing companies.
While a series beginning with '140' was allocated to mobile services, a separate identifiable number series for landline numbers hasn't been allocated yet.
DoT had pointed out various technical, billing and security concerns in issuing a number series for landline services.
A call from a landline number can be identified based on the STD code - the initial digits and then levels (digits following STD codes), which differ from exchange to exchange within a city.
In case an identifiable series of '140' is used, it will impact the numbering system being used at present for allocating new connections.
Adding a 3-digit series to landline numbers will take the total digits to 13 and to transmit such numbers on telecom networks, especially for caller line identification, BSNL and MTNL need to install new equipment in exchanges.
Also, it will be difficult for security agencies to track calls, as it will display an uniform code instead of a STD code for connections across the country.
Last December, Trai had come out with recommendations, 'The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010' to curb the menace of pesky calls and SMSes.
Since then, two deadlines have been missed for implementing the guidelines in view of the absence of an identified number series.
Trai has recommended a maximum fine of Rs 2.5 lakh on telemarketing companies for making unsolicited calls or SMSes to a consumer registered under the national customer preference register - a modified version of Trai's 'Do Not Call Registry' list.
The subscriber may choose to be under the 'Fully Blocked' category, which is akin to the 'Do Not Call Registry'. The user can also choose the 'Partially Blocked' category, in which case he will receive SMSes in the categories chosen by him.