Trai calls on banks, others to comply with directive to check pesky SMSes

Trai calls on banks, others to comply with directive to check pesky SMSes

New Delhi: The telecom regulator has called out the country’s major banks and telemarketing firms for failure to comply with norms to control pesky SMSes despite individual reminders sent to them repeatedly.

“Unfortunately, despite repeated communication, all major banks and big telemarketers sending SMS have failed to fulfil regulatory requirements. All are being notified individually also,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said in a press note on Tuesday.

It has once again alerted all business entities to ensure compliance with norms to control pesky SMSes while operators will continue to allow SMS traffic to flow unhindered to avoid any disruption to the public.

Market regulator SEBI also issued an advisory note to all market participants to strictly adhere to Trai norms to check the flow of unsolicited messages containing stock tips or investment advice.

The move comes after a review meeting between operators and Trai officials on Tuesday. This, even as around 20% of critical SMSes such as OTPs and transactional services are still failing to pass the content checking filters imposed by telecom companies due to faulty template registrations, industry sources say.

The failure rate is even higher for promotional SMSes, close to 40%, due to new and dynamic content which flows in the system every day. Even after two weeks of extension given to business entities, over 200-300 million daily commercial SMSes are unable to pass the content checking filters imposed by telecom companies, pushing the telecom regulator to further delay the activation of SMS scrubbing for the third time in a row.

“Major reasons observed for not meeting the regulatory compliance are content template not registered, content Id missing, mismatch in template registered and message sent etc,” the authority said.

Trai is likely to publish a list of defaulters who are yet to register their SMS content and comply with the regulation to control spam SMSes, a person aware of the matter said.

But a Trai official warned that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.

“Telcos have been giving us a list of those who did not comply till now. Trai is still discussing and those who do not follow cannot be allowed any more to continue like this,” a senior official told ET.

However, telecom companies downplayed the disruptions, saying the situation has significantly improved since March 8 when the filters were first activated causing massive disruption. ET had reported that close to 400 million commercial SMSes, including OTPs from top banks, were dropped on that day.

“The problem has bottomed out to a large extent now,” a top executive at a telecom company said. “In my mind, we will be able to implement TCCCPR with full force by the end of this month”.

Telecom Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR) is a directive of Trai announced in 2018 aimed at weeding out pesky commercial messages. The regulations entirely came into force from February 28, 2019.

“Since, then TRAI has been through, Telecom Service Providers (TSP), communicating with the Principal Entities to fulfill the regulatory requirements,” Trais said.

It added that the regulation not only helps in preventing spam but also helps in preventing fraudulent messages purporting to originate from banks, financial institutions, or other trusted sources.

There are close to 200,000 registered business entities and government bodies who send commercial SMSes as per data on registration portals of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).

Operators did not respond to ET’s query till press time.



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