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Coming Up: Yr mo num 4 any1 to c

21-August-2004
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Coming Up: Yr mo num 4 any1 to c

If you’re sick of receiving telemarketing calls on your mobile phone in the middle of a trans-border multi-million dollar deal, watch out. Things are only going to get worse.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday issued a consultation paper on publishing telephone directories (for mobile and basic connections). It has sought the industry’s views by September 10.

Unless they have a sudden change of heart, operators will oppose the directory idea tooth and nail. Even some consumer groups have been arguing that such a directory will only increase nuisance calls from telemarketing companies.

Trai’s argument is that countries in the European Union (EU) already have mobile phone directories in place. The US and Malaysia are moving towards that direction.

In India, printed telephone directory is available only for fixed line subscribers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL). Private operators have been dragging their feet over mandatory printing of directories.

Cellular mobile licences provide for publication of printed telephone directories. But no service providers publish one. Reason: mobile customers are supposedly disinterested.

Trai’s counter: Things have changed after the receiving party pays (RPP) regime changed.

“Now there should not be any restraint from cellular operators as the calling party pays (CPP) regime is in place,” a Trai official argued.

Leading mobile service providers and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) refused to comment.

The consultation paper points out that it shall be mandatory for the licensee to provide a computerised directory enquiry/assistance service with integrated database of its own subscribers in the same service area. But, if any subscriber does not want his name in the directory, the service provider can exclude it, “after obtaining concurrence of the subscriber in writing”, the paper states.

But who should provide these services? According to a Trai official, either the incumbents could offer these or the service providers or even a third party service provider. In case of service providers or third party service providers, a licence or some kind of authorisation will be required.

As pre-paid customers are likely to remain with a service provider for a short time, the department of telecommunication is of the opinion that these subscribers may only be included in the online directory for the duration of the service.

The total mobile subscriber base in the country is pegged at 33.69 million, while there are 42.84 million fixed line connections.

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