The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has received some backlash from the industry because of its latest pesky calls regulations. In reply, Trai has said that the most recent regulations do not target a particular company. In a live stream featuring Trai Chairman RS Sharma, the authority made it clear that Trai is defending its stance on the issue by clarifying that it is not biased in its decision making. Regarding the issue of pesky calls and unwanted SMS, Trai said that users should have complete autonomy to report calls which they feel are intrusive and spam.
The regulator has been on harsh terms with Apple for almost a year now since Apple has denied providing a DND app on its iOS due to privacy concerns. Trai, on the other hand, has said: “every access provider shall ensure, within six months’ time, that all smartphone devices registered on its network support the permissions required for the functioning.”
This new deadline means that if Apple doesn’t submit to Trai’s demands in the meantime, Telecom operators will be forced to shut down Apple iPhones on their network because of the absence of a DND app.
RS Sharma further added to his words “The situation is misconstrued. The regulations say that when I use a smartphone if there is an unsolicited SMS or call, I should be facilitated to make a complaint to the regulator…It has nothing to do with a particular company. I, as a consumer, must have the freedom to forward an SMS (unsolicited telemarketing message).”
Questions have also been raised about Trai’s jurisdiction about the new regulation saying that the regulator is only responsible for regulating the telecom sector and that the suggestions of Trai on data security and privacy are in a grey area.
Sharma further said during his live stream “I am not the competent person to answer this query. But this debate has been going on with regard to convergence in broadcasting and telecom space…on the need for converged regulator. Yes, there is probably a need but it is for the Government to see.”
Another issue over which people shed light was the issue of M&A, where questions were asked about a strong monopoly in the market due to the decreasing number of players. To this Sharma replied as “In most of the markets there are 3-4 players of significance, so concerns related to monopolisation are not justified…But if people form cartels, there are regulators who will take care of the issue…We will cross the bridge when it comes.”
Notably, Trai had suggested that the telecom operators make use of blockchain technology, an encrypted ledger maintenance method, to take on the issue of pesky calls and spam telemarketing numbers. However, industry experts had dismissed this idea saying that the recommendation was made without a cost-benefit analysis and that it would be an unnecessarily expensive affair.