Ensure level-playing field while curbing spam voice calls: COAI urges Centre

New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Amid the surge in unsolicited commercial communications (UCC) or spam voice calls on mobile phones, the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) on Tuesday urged the government to ensure a level-playing field in regulatory compliance requirements between telecom service providers (TSPs) and other messaging platforms providing similar communication services.

While the industry continues to assist the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Department of Consumer Affairs in addressing the spam calls and SMSs menace, the top industry body said it looks forward to progressive action from the authorities.

Under the TRAI’s Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR) the industry has developed various modules, which have been “reasonably successful” considering the noticeable decline in the volume of spam originating from SMSs over the last couple of years.

“However, UCC from voice calls, is still an issue that the regulator and TSPs are working together to address,” said Lt Gen Dr SP Kochhar, Director General, COAI.

The issue involves multiple stakeholders — TSPs, telemarketers, aggregators, principal entities (PEs) like banks, financial institutions and real estate agencies.

“TSPs are currently working on bringing a few more models to address the issue of UCC through voice calls. The government has allocated the 140 series for promotional voice calls and has now prescribed the 160 series for transactional and service voice calls,” informed Kochhar.

These modules are being worked upon and designed under discussions between all TSPs and technology partners and will be implemented by TSPs in the coming months, he added.

Further, the digital consent acquisition (DCA) framework is an important module developed by the TSPs, wherein PEs are required to digitally take explicit consent from the users for sending commercial/business communications.

TSPs are trying to engage and onboard various PEs to implement the DCA framework.

The committee formed by the Department of Consumer Affairs is working to prepare draft guidelines under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, to safeguard consumers from unwarranted commercial communications.

“We believe that these guidelines, once notified, will be helpful in addressing the menace of UCC substantially as it will put a deterrence on the unregistered telemarketers,” said COAI.



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