Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday asserted that there would be no further delay in implementing Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)'s recommendations on unsolicited telemarketing calls and SMS. “It would come into effect from February 1,” Mr. Sibal told reporters here.

As per TRAI guidelines, which favour severe penalty against defaulting telemarketing companies and operators with financial penalty as high as Rs.2.50-lakh, the action was to begin on January 1. But it had to be delayed by a month as telecom operators wanted some more time to meet their contractual obligations and make some necessary technical upgradations and conduct security audits of companies. However, Mr. Sibal said TRAI's recommendations would now be implemented from February 1. “And if any operator has any issue, it will be resolved,” he added. On December 1, 2010, TRAI issued new guidelines to check the menace of unsolicited telemarketing calls and SMS. As per the guidelines, TRAI had said a hefty penalty of up to Rs.2.50-lakh would be imposed for violation of the telemarketing guidelines, which could be followed by blocking of connections of habitual defaulters. It also recommended a new set of phone numbers starting with ‘70' for telemarketers to help unregistered subscribers identify commercial calls and decide whether to accept or reject such calls. It also said no commercial calls could be made between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m.

Unlike the previous guidelines, which only provided for a ‘Do Not Call' Registry, the new regulations gave customers different options to avoid unsolicited calls by choosing either “fully blocked” or “partially blocked” categories. TRAI also identified seven categories for telemarketing calls, including banking and financial products, real estate, education, health, consumer goods, automobiles, communication, entertainment, tourism and leisure.

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