Customers are given options to block fully or partially all calls

Finally, mobile subscribers will get the much needed relief from unsolicited telemarketing calls and SMS from Tuesday when the new strict regulations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to check pesky calls come into effect.

Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal along with his Ministers of State Sachin Pilot and Milind Deora will formally introduce ‘The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulation, 2010' that paves way for imposing hefty fines on defaulting telemarketing companies as well as operators who fail to comply with the new regulations. The TRAI and mobile operators are likely to come out with a series of advertisements to make people aware about the new regulations.

To start or stop telemarketing calls/SMS, subscribers can call 1909 to choose his preferred option, while this can also be done by sending SMS to their respective operators.

Under the new regime, subscribers can opt for ‘fully blocked' category where all commercial calls/SMS will be blocked, while there is a ‘partially blocked' category to receive various promotional SMS.

If a customer wants to exercise the option of ‘fully blocked', he may send SMS ‘START 0' and if he wants to exercise the option of ‘partially blocked,' he may send SMS ‘START' and give option of his choice. For example, ‘START 1' for receiving SMS relating to banking/insurance/financial products/credit cards or ‘START 2' for real estate and so on. There are seven categories to choose from.

The new regulations have provisions of hefty penalty of up to Rs.2.50 lakh on erring telemarketing companies and blacklisting of habitual offenders. The regulations also mandate that no commercial communication, even for unregistered customers, shall be sent between 9.00 p.m. and 9.00 a.m., so that customers are not disturbed at night.

However, one new aspect of the regulations, included earlier this month, is that all subscribers will be restricted from sending more than 100 SMS a day. This has been done to ensure that people engaged in various businesses cannot send promotional SMS from unregistered phone numbers.

For the convenience of subscribers, the TRAI has made it mandatory for all operators to set up a facility for registration of complaints of customers regarding receipt of unsolicited commercial calls either through voice calls or SMS, which will be toll free.

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