Telecom operators are going to file a petition in the TDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal) opposing the TRAI’s order that directed them to take explicit consent from subscribers for activating value added services (VAS) on their mobile numbers, reports The Hindu Businessline. The COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) confirmed the development to the publication, and said that it was opposed to the method prescribed by the TRAI.
In July 2012, the regulatory body had directed that service providers must obtain confirmation from subscribers through SMS or e-mail or FAX or in writing within twenty four hours of activation of the value added service and charge the subscriber only if it is received from him for the service and discontinue the service if no confirmation is received from him, in case of the service being activated on an outbound or inbound call. It had also asked operators to inform the consumer via SMS, the the due date for renewal of value added service, the charges for renewal and toll free telephone number for unsubscribing the value added service, three days before the date of renewal. The TRAI had also instructed them to ask for subscriber’s consent for renewal in case he had insufficient credit balance in his mobile account.
The TRAI had said that through the directions it intended to check the activation of VAS products especially on prepaid mobile connections, without the customer’s explicit consent. It also mentioned that it had been receiving complaints from consumers about providers renewing VAS products even when the available balance in the customer’s account was insufficient.
While the guidelines attempted to check false billing and unsolicited activation of VAS products, it also implied that customers would need to go through multiple steps to activate services, which might act as a hurdle for VAS players and telcos. So the telcos decided not to comply with the regulations, and contest them through a legal petition.
Interestingly, the telcos also approached the TDSAT objecting to TRAI’s last order that instructed them to deactivate ISD services on pre-paid mobile connections to check misleading lottery winning or prize winning calls and Wangiri phone calls from International numbers, since subscribers were losing money calling back. The COAI has said that the TRAI order was irrational, unreasonable, arbitrary, illegal, and without application of mind, according to an Economic Times report. The TDSAT has asked TRAI not to take any action against telcos till a decision is taken. We’re also of the view that deactivation of ISD services is not a solution to unsolicited International calls. Instead, the TRAI and telcos should find a way to filter them.