Apple's iOS 12 to allow DND-compliant apps, firm ends stand-off with Trai

Apple had to offer an app to its Indian customers of iPhone that would allow them to report such calls to the authorities seamlessly
The face-off between Apple and the telecom regulator could end soon, with the company ready with an alternative solution, said a government source. 

 
The company has sent a note to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) that its new iOS 12, expected to hit the market soon, will make it possible for developers to create apps which will comply with the Indian regulations of Do Not Disturb (DND). It could be made available to its customers, before Diwali. 

 
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recently put in what are known as pesky call regulations to help mobile users to avoid such calls. The regulations, among other things, note that “every access provider shall ensure, within six months’ time, all smartphone devices registered on its network support the permissions required for the functioning”. 

In effect, this meant that Apple had to offer an environment to its Indian customers of iPhone that would allow them to report such calls to the authorities, seamlessly. The Apple supported suit of apps in India does not offer such a call report facility as of now. Since the Cupertino-based company also guards carefully the ecosystem of apps that can operate on its iPhone and other products, this has led to concerns where the stand-off could lead to, with some reports saying it could even lead to closure of the iPhone business in India. Because of the sensitivity of the issue, there has been no comment from any concerned government department on the subject. Apple, too, has not commented on the developments when Business Standard reached out.

 
Trai Chairman R S Sharma has, however, denied there is any stand-off. Apple is reported to have claimed that only telecom service providers are governed by Trai regulations and so there is no reason for the regulator to mandate any rules for other sectors, like DND which industry body ISA, too, has supported. But analysts on conditions of anonymity have said this interpretation is not correct. The mobile users’ rights are governed by Trai regulations; which means a DND facility is a valid extension of those rights. It is up to the companies which make products for the consumers to come up with facilities that comply with those rights. 
Sharma, too, in an internet Q&A session earlier this month has taken a similar line. He has said the regulations meant to cut down on calls from advertisers and other solicitors for those who do not want to receive such calls, are framed in operator-agnostic terms. He said the regulations will apply to all companies and “has nothing to do with a specific company”. 

As of now, an iPhone customer can report unwanted calls to the Trai only by a laborious process of copying the details from her mobile and then send the message to Trai. Apps available in the Android ecosystem make the process much simpler.

But the iPhone universe does not have a comparable facility and which Apple has apparently promised to deliver upon soon. 

In any case the new iOS 12 from Apple which is expected to hit the markets soon could incorporate many of these pain points. A formal declaration of the solution might have to await a communication to the market regulator soon as it is a listed company in the US.

PUTTING THE BITE ON APPLE
  • Apple is reported to have claimed that only telecom service providers are governed by Trai regulations and so there is no reason for the regulator to mandate any rules for other sectors, like Do Not Disturb (DND)
  • Mobile users’ rights are governed by Trai regulations, which means a DND facility is a valid extension of those rights