COVID-19: Telcos using caller tune to spread awareness

It also sought a direction to telcos “to send bulk SMS/PUSH notification on the simple dos and don’ts to all the clients”.

March 09, 2020 12:31 pm | Updated 12:38 pm IST - New Delhi

A medic wearing a facemask talks on her phone in the premises of Kasturba Hospital, where a special ward is set up for providing treatment to novel coronavirus patients, in Mumbai | File

A medic wearing a facemask talks on her phone in the premises of Kasturba Hospital, where a special ward is set up for providing treatment to novel coronavirus patients, in Mumbai | File

The government has ordered all telecom firms to make a 30-second audio clip on coronavirus as a caller tune of mobile phone users to create awareness among masses — an order that state-owned BSNL and Reliance Jio have fully complied with while other telcos are yet to follow.

Top sources said on a request from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) ordered superseding of the phone ringing tone that one hears on dialling a number, with the 30-second information clip.

Explained: How is India containing COVID-19?

The only exception to not hearing the coronavirus message is when a user has subscribed to a particular tune, they said.

All telcos were asked to incorporate the coronavirus ringing tone but so far only state-owned BSNL and Reliance Jio are in full compliance. The other telcos have cited technical issues for part implementation, they said.

The DoT had on Friday sent email instructions to all telcos to make the coronavirus audio clip as the ‘ring back tone’ to help disseminate information to masses. The order asked telcos to “incorporate audio clips in ring back tone of each subscribers on urgent basis from today till further orders”.

This followed a letter from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to the Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash on March 5 on disseminating pertinent information on coronavirus through all channels of communication and from all possible vantage points. “You are requested to ask the telecom firms to make use of a 30-second audio we have developed as the pre-call notification for a period of three days,” the letter said.

It also sought a direction to telcos “to send bulk SMS/PUSH notification on the simple dos and don’ts to all the clients”.

It further sought the telecom secretary’s personal monitoring to ensure mechanisms are in place for successful dissemination of messages. The ministry’s request to the DoT came as part of steps to create awareness to prevent spread of the disease and advocate simple public health measures that people can take to prevent infection.

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