TRAI raps operators for not following value-add service rules

Thomas K. Thomas
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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has hauled up mobile companies for failing to comply with its order on seeking consumer's consent before activating Value Added Services (VAS).

The telecom regulator has told the operators that even a year after it issued the regulation it was still receiving consumer complaints.

On July 4, 2011, TRAI had asked mobile companies not to activate value added services without the consent of the subscribers. The operators were supposed to obtain confirmation from the consumer through an SMS, e-mail, a fax or in writing within 24 hours of activation of the VAS.

Further, every service provider had to inform the consumer through SMS at least three days before the date of renewal of a subscribed value-added service. If there is insufficient balance in the pre-paid account of a consumer at the time of renewal of subscription to a value added service, the service provider shall send a request, through an SMS.

Implemented partially

The operators have, however, implemented the system only partially. While they have started sending SMS alerts before the due date of subscription, they have expressed their inability to implement a system for seeking users' consent prior to activation. Instead, they have done away with the outsourcing model with VAS players in a bid to address the concerns raised by TRAI.

Mobile companies have brought in all push-promotions under an ‘in-house model'. This model will comprise a subscription engine, management system, hardware and software. Operators claim they will have greater control on the VAS activations. The mobile companies had promised TRAI to implement this alternative mechanism across all circles by June 30.

“We would like to reiterate that the above initiatives will resolve the concerns of the Authority and lead to a significant reduction in the complaints,” the operators had said in a joint letter sent to TRAI on April 20.

However, the regulator rejected this alternative scheme and insisted that its regulations by complied with in full.

“It is absolutely necessary that the directions of the Authority are fully complied with so that there are no instances of activation of value added services without the explicit consent of the consumer,” TRAI said in a letter to the Cellular Operators Association of India on May 31.

(This article was published on June 4, 2012)
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