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May 22, 2024

Telcos Partner with Tech Companies to Combat Unwanted Calls and Messages

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has announced a strategic collaboration between telecom operators and technology partners to address the persistent issue of unwanted calls and text messages. This initiative aims to mitigate the nuisance caused by unsolicited commercial communication (UCC), with new measures and strategies set to enhance current efforts.

According to a report by the Financial Express, COAI is representing leading telecom firms in this effort. SP Kocchar, Director-General of COAI, highlighted the industry’s progress using distributed ledger technology (DLT) frameworks. He noted a significant decline in UCC originating from SMS over the past few years, showcasing the success of these modules. Despite this progress, UCC through voice calls continues to pose a challenge, which is being tackled in collaboration with regulators and telecom companies.

Currently, the Union government has designated specific number series to help users distinguish between promotional and service-related voice calls: the 140 series for promotional calls and the 160 series for transactional and service-related calls. This allocation is intended to help users identify genuine service calls and reduce confusion.

COAI’s announcement aligns with the Department of Consumer Affairs’ efforts to draft guidelines regulating unsolicited spam calls and messages. Once implemented, these guidelines will hold banks, fintech companies, real estate developers, and other entities directly accountable for spam communications, as these organizations often outsource promotional activities to third-party agencies. Kocchar emphasized that these guidelines, upon notification, will significantly deter unregistered telemarketers, thereby reducing the prevalence of UCC.

Historically, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has combated UCC through the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR). This regulation relies on blockchain-based distributed ledger technology to provide an effective solution to UCC. The approach involves various stakeholders, including telecom operators, telemarketers, aggregators, and principal entities (PEs).

A key component of this strategy is the Digital Consent Acquisition (DCA) framework, developed by Telecommunication Service Providers (TSPs). Under the DCA framework, principal entities are required to obtain explicit digital consent from users before sending commercial or business communications. This ensures that users have control over the communications they receive, reducing the likelihood of unwanted messages.

The COAI report highlights the active involvement of TSPs in promoting and implementing the DCA framework among various principal entities. This includes engaging banks, financial institutions, and real estate agencies to ensure compliance and adoption of the framework. The success of this initiative hinges on the cooperation and commitment of all stakeholders to uphold user consent and minimize unsolicited communications.

As these efforts continue, the collaboration between telecom operators and technology partners represents a significant step towards addressing the issue of unwanted calls and messages. By leveraging advanced technologies and regulatory support, the industry aims to create a more controlled and user-friendly communication environment.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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