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Trai-DoT spat keeps pesky calls menace going

Trai and DoT are yet to reach a consensus over issuing separate landline numbers for telemarketers to effectively filter unsolicited calls.

Mail Today Bureau | April 18, 2011 | Updated 13:45 IST

With no resolution in sight of the differences between the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the department of telecommunications (DoT) on putting in place an effective filtering mechanism for unsolicited calls and messages, mobile phone users will have to live with the pesky calls menace for some time more.

Trai and DoT are yet to reach a consensus over issuing separate landline numbers for telemarketers to effectively filter unsolicited calls, even as Trai chairman J. S. Sarma late last month assured that the matter would be sorted out in the next 15 days.

Sarma had, on March 28, told MAIL TODAY that he has been assured by the higher-ups in the government that the issue of filtering mechanism for unsolicited calls would be sorted out soon. The final date for resolution of the issue has already been deferred four times. The Trai's last deadline of March 21 was deferred without giving any deadline. "My understanding is that in the next 15 days the matter would be sorted out with the DoT and it would take another three weeks for the operators to tune-up their network accordingly," Sarma had stated.

With the Trai and the DoT remaining at loggerheads over the issue, telemarketers continue to bombard mobile subscribers with unsolicited commercial calls (UCC).

DoT officials have explained that it would take time for it to upgrade its exchanges across the country for issuing a separate new series of ten-digit number starting with 140 to telemarketing companies for using landline phones.

A DoT official said that if it allowed the new series without making necessary changes in its exchanges across the country, it would be a security threat to its network. DoT officials argue that it will be difficult for security agencies to track calls as it will display a uniform code instead of the STD code.

At present, a landline call can be identified based on the STD code followed by the ensuing digits, which differ from exchange to exchange within a city.

"Any person with ill intention can misuse the network. He can plug into the network manually. It is not financially viable either. A separate series for telemarketers will impact the numbering system being used at present for allocating new connections," said the official.

Earlier, both DoT and Trai had said they cannot leave it to the operators to make their own arrangements for telemarketing calls. "The people's perception that we are purposefully delaying putting a stop to unwanted calls and messages from telemarketers is wrong. People should understand that the government has to facilitate the right kind of infrastructure and they (operators) follow that," said Trai.

Telecom operators too, have been pushing for deferring regulations on telemarketers as they have their commitments with the latter.

Meanwhile, after penalising new operators, telecom ministry is now turning the heat on old service providers and has finalised a penalty demand of over Rs 150 crore for their failure to roll out services on time.

DoT has finalised the fine of over Rs 150 crore on the established telecom operators for not rolling out their networks on time in the past, a senior DoT official said.

Last year, DoT had issued 119 notices to new telecom operators for slipping on network roll-out obligations and had levied penalties on them. It has collected over Rs 300 crore from them in penalties.

Earlier, the ministry had proposed penalty of Rs 477 crore (later reduced to Rs 135.60 crore) against old operators, including Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, RCom, Aircel and others for missing roll out obligations.

Courtesy: Mail Today

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