BJP’s newly constituted Telecom Consumer Cell took up the issue of unsolicited commercial communication (SMS and voice calls) with the chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on January 27. In a memorandum presented to TRAI chairman Dr JS Sarma in New Delhi, a delegation of the Cell, led by its national convener Shri Sanjay Bhalla, demanded direct compensation to the telecom consumers who suffer from unsolicited telemarketing SMS or phone calls.
The memorandum demanded the implementation of a system that makes it mandatory for telecom service providers and telemarketers to pay telecom users for unsolicited text SMSs and automated voice calls. The delegation demanded the TRAI to issue a notification directing the Access Providers to directly credit to the accounts of telecom users, Rs five for every unsolicited commercial communication SMS and Rs 10 for every unsolicited commercial communication voice mail.
Shri Bhalla claimed that the system is technically feasible. “We have discussed this issue with several telecom providers and they do not see much difficulty in implementing this system,” he said. He pointed out that the TRAI chairman principally agreed to their demand and assured them to study it.
Talking to Organiser after submitting the memorandum Shri Bhalla said the proposed system not only benefits the average consumer but also the service providers and poor consumers. “The number of unsolicited SMSs will drop, while those who do wish to receive SMS will get paid for it-the extra money could be used to making phone calls thus providing extra billings to the service provider,” he added.
Shri Bhalla pointed out that in the TRAI policy guidelines document for UCC (No 305-17/2010-QoS), dated 1 December 2010, on the setting up and enforcement of rules for Access Providers and telemarketers with respect to UCCs, clauses pertaining to the penalties merely specify that “….the penalty amounts shall be deducted from the security deposit of the telemarketer and deposited in the account as may be specified by TRAI, from time to time…”. “Surprisingly there is no reference on compensating the telecom consumer for the inconvenience caused and the unsolicited use of the resource by the telemarketer. By law, the cell phone is the private property of the telecom user; therefore it is the consumer’s right to be paid for the usage of the private resource by a third party-in this case, the Access Provider/telemarketer,” said Shri Bhalla.
Shri Bhalla said the mission of the BJP’s Telecom Cell is to speak on behalf of India‘s telecom consumers on all service and policy issues relating to telecommunications. “The Cell will champion the cause of India‘s nearly 750 million users of wireless/telephony and internet, as well as subscribers of direct-to-home and cable TV services,” he said. (FOC)