The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) resumed its customary open house discussion (OHD) on the pending matters through video-conference amid Covid-19 crisis. However, the issue of floor price of tariffs is unlikely to be taken up via online mode for now.

In the first virtual OHD, telecom companies requested for continuation of the government’s regulation on charging higher SMS rates in order to curb spam messages from unregistered telemarketers.

The meeting was attended by telcos including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio and Tata Communications, wherein they jointly pointed out that the 54th amendment of Telecom Tariff Order must continue as it acts as a deterrent to unsolicited commercial communication (UCC).

In this regard, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said that it is necessary to provide a financial disincentive to unregistered telemarketers (UT) who would always find ways to beat the system. The present system does not have strong enough disincentives for those UTs who would try and game the system and bypass its customer safeguards. The present limit of 100 SMSs a day would in no way inconvenience any legitimate customer who never reaches the cap of 100 SMSs in a day.

As per Tata Communications, the lifting of regulation will lead to an increase in spam traffic as the distributed ledger technology (DLT) implementation is still in the nascent stage and the person-to-person channel is not yet properly monitored on it.

In December 2012, TRAI had issued the order mandating a charge of Rs 50 paise for every SMS sent beyond the limit of 100 SMS per day per SIM.

Further, in 2018, TRAI had mandated telcos to adopt DLT with permissioned and private DLT networks where only identified and registered users can participate.