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Regulators crack down on unwanted calls

NIC offers a computer and database network backbone and e-governance support to government agencies, reports M Rajendran.

business Updated: Apr 19, 2007 23:02 IST
M Rajendran
M Rajendran

Your misery from the pesky telemarketers could end with just one phone call. Regulators have zeroed in on a central registry for 'Do Not Call' numbers.

Telecom service providers, banks and the regulators for these two sectors are likely to ask the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to maintain a database of numbers which would be off limits for telemarketing companies, a source close to the development told Hindustan Times.

Telemarketers, people who call to sell you home loans, credit cards, personal loans and other products, are part of a Rs. 800 crore per year industry growing at 15 to 20 per cent per annum, industry officials say.

NIC, which functions under the Department of Information Technology, offers a computer and database network backbone and e-governance support to government agencies. It offers a wide range of Information Communications Technology (ICT) services including a nationwide communication network for decentralized planning and improvement in government services.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) chairman, when contacted, said the matter was under consideration. “We are in process of discussing the issue of telemarketing. I cannot comment anything further. Guidelines would be released soon," Nripendra Misra said.

However, a senior TRAI official, who asked not to be identified, said basic work had been done on the issue.
“We have drafted the framework, and would be presenting it to all the concerned stakeholders including Department of Telecommunications (DoT) by this weekend or early next week," the official said.

Under the proposed framework, telecom consumers have to just call one toll-free number of NIC and a voice mail will register it.

Telemarketers and direct selling agents (DSA) would have to register with the DoT and secure a licence as an ‘Other Service Provider’ (OSP).

“Numbers listed on the NIC database will not be called by any DSA or any other telemarketing agency. In case they do, a stiff penalty (amount under consideration) will be imposed, including statutory action against them," the TRAI official said.

The Cellular Operators Association of India and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) would be asked to jointly fund this database. “Principally, all telecom operators have given a positive signal for this,” a TRAI source said.

TRAI will write to the DoT requesting it to permit NIC to host such a registry and also to give NIC the necessary clearances and authorizations that may be required.

The Indian Banks Association (IBA) and RBI will be jointly sounded out to adopt a strict procedure of appointing DSAs, which will be followed by all banks in the country. Currently, there are about 50,000 DSAs in the country appointed by banks to telemarket their products and services. Many of these DSAs are small entities.

The DNC registry will be set up once DoT gives the clearance and the RBI and IBA agree to implement the new system of appointing DSAs.

First Published: Apr 19, 2007 19:40 IST

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