TRAI asks telcos to act against telemarketing calls, messages; report network outages

Cabinet approves relief package for telecoms sector
A rickshaw puller speaks on his mobile phone as he waits for customers in front of advertisement billboards belonging to telecom companies in Kolkata February 3, 2014. Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

New Delhi: In light of the growing instances of frauds and scams through phone calls, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has asked telcos to take immediate action to curb pesky calls and messages by getting banks and FIs to clean up unused templates.

The regulator initiated a slew of steps to crackdown on the issue of unsolicited commercial communications (UCC).

TRAI held a review meeting with telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, Jio, and Vodafone Idea (VIL) on issue of UCC detect system.

During the meeting, Vodafone Idea made a presentation on a AI/ML (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning) system that can analyse and detect patterns when it comes to fraudulent messages being sent from mobile numbers by scammers.

TRAI said permission will now be given to VIL for a pilot, and based on its success TRAI will come out with principles/regulations for such solutions in the industry.

The deadline for review of implementation of UCC detect system using AI/ML is May 1.

"Today we have made it very clear that telcos have to come out with an integrated system of stopping frauds (calls and messages). They are doing work...but more needs to be done," TRAI chairman P D Vaghela told reporters after the meeting with telecom operators on Monday.

TRAI said from May 1, the blockchain based DLT system will also be implemented for voice calls, just like it is in place for unsolicited messages at present.

TRAI reviewed implementation of directions it had issued on clean-up of headers and content templates and asked telcos to take immediate action to curb pesky calls and messages.

Telcos will nudge principal entities (PEs) such as banks, financial institutions (FIs) and others to clean up unused headers and templates immediately.

TRAI wants banks, FIs and other PEs in the business of sending SMS to take action immediately and clean up headers and templates, and if they fail to do so, the regulator will be consTRAIned to block their messages in DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) in consumer interest, sources said.

All PEs will be required to block unused headers and templates within 30 days and 60 days, respectively.

Complaints received at Cyber Crime Cell of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) will be shared with all telecom service providers for necessary action.

The action plan on UCC crackdown also includes sharing of information on suspected spammers and scammers by service providers on the common platform and blocking of messages transaction proactively, as well as bringing all voice based telemarketers on a common platform (DLT) for better monitoring and control.

TRAI is also keen that fresh series of numbers be allocated for voice calls (related to transaction or service calls) made by banks and other entities.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Photo: IANS

Report network outages with reasons

TRAI also directed telecom operators to start reporting about network outages that affect all consumers in a district.

The direction has come into force with immediate effect.

"..the access service providers have been directed to report...all incidents of major network outages affecting the telecom services to the entire consumers of a district continuously for a period of more than four hours, within 24 hours of their occurrence," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a statement.

The development follows after the regulator learnt about major network outages in the country of prolonged duration especially in the border and hilly areas, which adversely affect the quality of services being provided.

TRAI has directed telecom operators to report the root cause of major network outages and corrective actions taken by the telecom operators within 72 hours of restoration of the service.

The regulator said that the information will be collected to understand the root cause of major network outages and get relevant support from local authorities, if needed, extended to the telecom operators.

(With PTI inputs.)

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