Under criticism, and clearly identifiable as the one of the major sources of SMS SPAM (read: Mint here and here, MediaNama) Tata Teleservices (TTSL) is trying to shift public perception towards telemarketing calls.

Hypocritically, TTSL is strongly condemning “these calls”, suggesting that while voice calls are a nuisance, SMS SPAM is just disturbance. Their ridiculous justification: “emails and text intrusion, though not a happy intrusion are far more acceptable than telemarketing voice”. I get 3-4 spam calls a month, and was getting 2-3 spam SMS’ a day. You’re asking me if I prefer one over the other?

While it is easy to identify where SMS’ are coming from (here’s how), which is why TTSL gets much of the blame), one can’t quite tell which telecom operator is servicing the call centers. But then, are there as many calls, as there are SMS’?

But forget all that. Focus on the crowd-pleaser-statement, a work of genius:

“Just because some of the glitterati do not find time to put their numbers into the NDND (National Do Not Disturb) registry, the system is not able to block by design such intrusion into their privacy.”

Bravo. With this one statement, TTSL has managed to antagonize me even more. I’m no glitterati, and have been on the Do Not Call Registry since September 11th 2007. I’ve been getting Spam SMS’ from TM (Tata, Mumbai) and LM (Loop Mumbai).

Frankly, TTSL is just drawing even more attention to itself. I have a quick fix suggestion for them: Put a price on your pipe; stop selling SMS like a commodity.

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PRESS STATEMENT ON UNSOLICITED VOICE CALLS

Hyderabad: September 09, 2010

On the issue of unsolicited and intrusive telemarketing voice calls being made to mobile phone users across the country by telemarketing companies, one should weigh it between intrusiveness and disturbance, vis-à-vis Information-sharing. It is well known that e-mails and text intrusion, though not a happy intrusion, are far more acceptable than telemarketing voice that land up in the middle of nowhere for credit cards, insurance and a host of ‘push sales’. It is these calls that need to be strongly condemned. Telecom operators should not allow such intrusion into the lives of mobile phone users.

“It is rather unfortunate that the debate is not aligned to understanding difference between disturbance and nuisance of a telemarketers’ voice calls, vis-à-vis spam e-mail or spam SMS. Many telecom operators are permitting unsolicited calls by telemarketers and by their very nature, these calls are intrusive and a violation of the personal space of subscribers,” Mr AG Rao, TTL’s Chief Technology Officer and Enterprise Business Head, said.

While it is acknowledged that communication and selling media should not be blocked for usage just because some of the glitterati do not find time to put their numbers into the NDND (National Do Not Disturb) registry, the system is not able to block by design such intrusion into their privacy. However, despite this, a few instances of SPAM could still come in. However, as long as it’s not a voice call, but an e-mail or SMS, the degree of disturbance is far lower.

It is crucial, thus, for system to provide for 10 times more severe penalty for intrusive voice calls than SMS spam messages and all operators should support this.

“Telemarketing has been there since the very inception of the industry—it is unsolicited SPAM which is the scourge, and we are totally committed to help restrict SPAM, and even propose that commercial penalties be levied on operators for unsolicited SPAM,” Mr Rao added. “Indian telecom operators have received acclaim for reworking the costs of telecom to reach out to the masses and be a driver for economic growth. A farmer in a village or a fisherman is today happy to receive an SMS on crop prices, weather information, etc. any other form of public disbursement of information would have cost 100 times more.”

It would, thus, be useful if the methodology to register in NDNC registry is simplified, as also SPAM calls and SMS be differentiated so that call nuisance be addressed more than text e-mail and SMS SPAM.