Ensure time-bound registration of entities for bulk SMSes: Trai to telcos

Trai's move is expected to come as a relief to entities like banks, airlines and many government entities who often send out bulk SMSes to mobile users.
Trai has directed telcos to ensure a time-bound registration of entities that send out bulk commercial messages to consumers and has allowed government entities easy provisional registration for now with a deadline of July 31 to regularise the same.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had earlier tightened the rules to curb pesky calls and SMSes by prescribing use of blockchain technology to ensure that telemarketing messages are sent only to those who have subscribed to them, and that too by authorised entities following a pre-defined procedure including registration and assignment of headers, to send commercial messages to customers.

"Incidents have come to the notice of Trai that telecom service providers are taking too much time for the registration of the entities and headers resulting in a disruption in sending the SMS. It has also been brought to the notice that many government entities are also not able to send the SMS as they are not able to get their headers registered," Trai said in a statement.

The regulator has now issued directions to all operators to ensure that registration of commercial entities and assignment of headers is done on a "priority basis" within seven days subject to fulfillment of formalities by concerned entities.

For registration of government entities, it has allowed a simple procedure for their provisional registration for the time being.
"All such government entities have been permitted time till July 31, 2020, to complete all formalities and regularise their registration including headers so assigned provisionally. This will address concerns of all government agencies," it said.

Trai's move is expected to come as a relief to entities like banks, airlines and many government entities who often send out bulk SMSes to mobile users.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation rules notified in July 2018, provided for registration of sender entities through a simple registration process so business can assert their identity and establish a relationship of trust with their clients.

The regulations also prescribed registration of headers and their use to segregate different types of commercial messages, so business will be able to enable clients to manage, delete or store communications related to OTPs, balance enquiry, flight alerts, and special offers among others.

The regulations provided that header will be assigned to principal entities (that is commercial entities on whose behalf messages are sent) after verification of documents and credentials.

Directions were issued to telecom service providers to get such commercial entities on-boarded on the system. As per regulations, entities that failed to do so may not be able to send any commercial communications.

"Telecom service providers have initiated blocking of commercial communication traffic from 'headers' of principal entities who have not yet registered or are yet to get assignment of headers," Trai said issuing the directive for time-bound registrations to be done by telcos.

It has now also stated that access providers will have to publish complete list of headers on their websites and also facilitate their customers to fetch this information by sending an SMS to special number '1909'.

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