After remaining in a denial and refusing to share any information about telemarketers over the years, finally, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has put out a list that contains names of registered entities and SMS headers used for sending commercial communication or unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) or unwanted spam SMSs.
On 19 June 2020, TRAI issued a direction regarding the implementation of the telecom commercial communications customer preference regulations (TCCCPR), 2018, which makes it mandatory for all telemarketers or principal agency (that provides a commercial communication service through short message service- SMS) to register with a telecom service provider (TSP) and obtain a specific code or header.
Currently these headers are prefixed by two alpha characters separated by a hyphen from the header, which is used to identify originating access providers (OAP).
At present, fixed length of six alphanumeric characters are being used to assign headers and total nine characters including prefixes and separator are being used. For example, VM-DOTMUM, where V denotes the TSP as Vodafone, M is for its service area Mumbai, and DoT is department of telecommunications from Mumbai.
Typical format and structure of the header with prefixes is as below:
XY - ABCDEF
X denotes TSP (OAP);
Y denotes license service area (LSA of OAP)
ABCDEF is a header assigned to the principal entity
I had also pointed out how there are many entities that continue actively in the telemarketing business even after they cease to exist as TSPs.
This issue seems to have been resolved by TRAI through its new directions. As per the new list there are only 11 service providers. And no surprises, Reliance Communication Ltd (RCom) that closed its mobile telephony business is listed as a service provider in this list.
This list has the names of Aircel Ltd and Dishnet Wireless Ltd (code D), Bharti Airtel Ltd and Bharti Hexacom Ltd (code A), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (code B), Quadrant Televentures Ltd (code Q), Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (code M), Reliance Communications Ltd (code R), Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (code J), Reliance Telecom Ltd (code E), Tata Teleservices Ltd and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd (code T), Vodafone Idea Ltd (code V) and V-CON Mobile & Infra Private Ltd (code C).
Here are the names of the service providers and the codes assigned to them as well as the list of area codes...
According to TRAI its new regulations permit the length of the header to go up to 11. Headers are also known as sender ID. So instead of XY - ABCDEF, as per the new directions, telemarketers can use XY - ABCDEFGH as well.
TRAI has shared the list of telemarketers or the principal agency registered with TSPs and the codes assigned to them. Since the code is revealed, it would be easier for subscribers to file a complaint against unsolicited commercial communication (UCC). However, the onus of following all guidelines and regulations is on the principal entity and TSP.
For example, many of us have received SMS for completing know-your-customer (KYC) for Paytm. Irrespective whether you have Paytm account or not we do get such SMS, which mostly lead to fraud or cheating with anyone who tries to complete the “formalities” for KYC. For example, many received such SMS from a header ‘BZ-ALERTZ’. However, this does not say anything about the sender. So, when you have the list of telemarketers, you would know exactly who is the sender behind such fraud SMS and take necessary action. (BTW: when I tweeted about this SMS, Paytm plainly told me that it does not send such messages! Nothing on taking any action against the spammers that may be spoiling Paytm’s brand image.)
As per TRAI directions, every entity that wishes to use SMS for sending commercial communication is required to register on distributed ledger technology (DLT) platforms, maintained and supported by telecom operators, and obtain the necessary header.
Unless the telemarketer obtains a header, all SMSs would be blocked by telecom service providers (TSPs). Some telemarketers may try to use and allow transactional traffic under common headers but this is against TRAI regulations and is thus not allowed.
There are two types of headers available for telemarketers, promotional and others like transaction related or updates. The header selected must match the entity name. If the header name is different, the registrant entity needs to justify it. Also, as per TRAI directions, headers or sender names are case-sensitive. For example, ABCDEF and abcdef are two different sender names and need to be registered separately. The registrant entity can choose any telemarketing agency for sending its SMS.
While TRAI sharing the list of registered entities that want to send commercial communication to mobile subscribers is a welcome step, what is most important is the grievance redress mechanism for speedy solution.
As is known, there is no grievance redressal mechanism available for telecom subscribers in TRAI. The telecom regulator does not pay any heed to grievances of individual subscribers and, at the most, just forwards the complaint to the respective telecom service provider to resolve.
So even if you have a complaint on receiving a UCC or spam SMS on your zero do not call (DNC) number, your complaint will go to the telecom operator. Since telcos earn money from telemarketers, your complaint against UCC would remain unresolved or your complaint would be closed citing flimsy reasons like ‘opted preference’ or ‘service-related message’ on your zero DNC number.
Though a bit late in the day, TRAI has finally shared the list and header codes used by telemarketers. Who knows, one day, the telecom regulator may even wake up and actively start helping resolve the grievances of subscribers!
Here is the 474-page list of registered entities and codes provide to them by the telecom services provides.