The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has reduced the entry barriers for companies to register as telemarketers: acting on submissions from banks and insurance companies, that small dealers and agents do not have the means to afford the security deposit of Rs 100,000. To this end, the security deposit has been reduced to Rs 50,000. The changes made:

– Security deposit reduced to Rs 50,000 from Rs 100,000. After the first complaint, the telemarketer will have to deposit Rs 100,000, and subsequently, Rs 150,000. Following the third complaint, the telemarketer will have to deposit Rs 400,000.
– Registration fees has been reduced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5000.
– Registration period for telemarketers extended from 3 years to 5 years
– Renewal fees reduced to Rs 5000.

This essentially makes it easier for smaller telemarketers to sign up. The deposits are necessary because telecom operators are expected to deduct fines from this amount, for every violation. The TRAI has a six strike policy, which includes fines and blacklisting: starting with Rs 25000 for the first strike, then Rs 75000, Rs 80000, Rs 120000, Rs 150000 and Rs 250000.

We’re not sure if this relaxation of policy is going to help matters: allowing more and more telemarketers to operate will perhaps help increase competition for bulk SMS businesses, and reduce rates, but it doesn’t really help reduce the SMS spam business that still persists:
– Telemarketers are still calling DND customers: I got a call from a real estate company today.
– Companies are still using the transactional pipe for promotional SMS’
– Companies are still sending SMS’s from SIM card’s bought from telecom operators, and the recent guidelines which intend to fine telecom operators don’t appear to have helped.

One trend I’ve noticed is that, even though I often file complaints when I receive spam SMS, I never really am informed about the outcome of the complaint. There is no guarantee that the telecom operator (in my case, Bharti Airtel), is forwarding the complaint to the TRAI. On a couple of occasions, however, I’ve received information that I filed the complaint after 32 hours of receiving the SMS, which was clearly not the case. The TRAI needs to perhaps set up an independent body for dealing with complaints, because telecom operators don’t appear to be following its guidelines.

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Related:
Finally! TRAI To Fine Telcos Rs 5000, Ban Marketers For SMS Spam