New Delhi: Your phone
buzzes and you reach for it - only to find yet another
telemarketing call or SMS, though you thought you had blocked
them. Many people report telemarketers are brazenly carrying on
with their pesky calls and messages despite the new regulations.
"Despite registering with Do Not Call, I am still getting at least
one to two messages, especially real estate offers, daily," a
harassed Manoj Sharma, a Delhi businessman, told IANS.
Customers expected an end to the regular unsolicited messages once
the new measures of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
came into force Sep 27 but it appears some loopholes were left.
While some telemarketers have resorted to internet messaging
solutions from overseas servers beyond the jurisdiction of either
TRAI or the government, many customers also report getting calls
from insurance or property agents from landline and mobile
numbers, in violation of the regulations which had enforced a
"140" prefix for calls from registered telemarketers.
Officials say they are looking into these complaints.
Speaking to IANS on the issue, TRAI chairman J.S. Sarma said the
telecom regulator is looking into the matter and the existing
regulations are sufficient for the issue.
"We are taking a look at that. There is no need for new
regulations," Sarma said.
Acknowledging that the calls and messages are still coming, he
however noted their frequency has reduced largely.
"The fact is there are millions of people who are registered on
CPR (Customer Preference Regulation), out of whom the number of
people who have registered the complaint is a very very small
number," he added.
According to TRAI, 1,122 subscribers using their numbers for
commercial purposes have been issued notices while 111 subscribers
have been disconnected. In case of telemarketers, 17 have been
penalised so far.
The regulator advises subscribers still receiving pesky messages
or calls to lodge their complaint by calling or messaging 1909.
Any commercial messages which is sent to a mobile customer needs
to have a code indicating the location and source operator
followed by the alphabets of the advertising companies or numbers.
However, now most of such messages do not contain any of that
except for the names of random companies like "Best Deal" or "Free
"I am still getting these irritating messages despite registering.
Earlier I used to get codes like LM, DM, etc, with the sender ID
but now I only get the company's codes," Ankita Sinha, a student
of the Delhi School of Economics, told IANS.
According to Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI)
director general Rajan Mathews, the lack of prefixes and unique
codes is a violation of TRAI regulations as well as making it
difficult to figure out the messages' source.
"Telemarketing companies have started exploiting new methods to
send messages. They are most probably coming from websites with
overseas servers which are difficult to trace and filter," Mathews
While an ordinary telemarketing firm charges 5 to 20 paise per SMS,
these servers might cost something around 50 paise to Re.1 per
message but still the companies go with it.
TRAI has laid out a maximum penalty of Rs.2.5 lakh for violators.
There is also a provision of getting blacklisted for two years
after the sixth violation, but these rules do not apply to servers
located outside India.
Expressing the government's helplessness, Communications Minister
Kapil Sibal recently admitted that it is difficult to completely
ban such calls and SMSs.
"People are very smart...now they are using internet to send such
messages. Now we don't have any control on the internet," Sibal
"The server may be somewhere outside the country. You may put your
calls or messages through that server. How will we deal with that
server over which we have no jurisdiction?" he said.
However, according to bulk messages firm SMS GupShup, these
messages can be controlled as SMSs cannot reach subscribers
without being routed by the service providers.
"TRAI can surely control these messages, irrespective of the place
of their origin, whether it is from India or abroad as even if a
message originates through the internet, eventually it has to be
sent to an Indian operator to be routed by its network,"
Vishwanath Ramachandran, chief technology officer, SMS GupShup,
(Priyanka Sahay can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)