UCC and Telemarketing – Stringent Regulation & Monitoring Needed

In 2006 “Unsolicited Commercial Communication’ regulation initiation and subsequently National Do Not Call (NDNC) Registry was established in 2007. The purpose of NDNC was to enable Mobile operators dip into the database before connecting voice calls from e-marketers and forward messages to end subscriber. With further unseen problems, the regulators enforced tele-marketers to register with the regulatory body to get the NDNC dipping facility to scramble their database and match with NDNC before allowing call to non-NDNC subscriber base.
The suggested regulatory directives were fully supported with Mobile operators and NDNC cost was absorbed by mobile operators to improve the customer experience. Still Mobile operator networks are flooded with UCC and subscriber pain increased with the higher adoption of web usages. It leads to simple query regarding the failure of UCC control. With the adoption and evolution of mobile network and subscriber base, the number of business sector identified mobile marketing as a simplest mechanism to position their product given the cost verse reach factor. It brought Bulk SMS provider with short codes into picture. Many of the company started deploying Bulk SMS infrastructure with minimum or no feature set of SMS platform but got the short-code enabled with most of the mobile operators and used web-services to enable customer to launch their targeted subscriber base across Mobile operator network. In FY12, the Bulk SMS volume size crossed 25 Bn and expected to grow by 20 in FY13. In FY11, Airtel stopped Bulk SMS business and also advocated vigorously to increase Bulk SMS termination charges as mitigating factor by making Bulk SMS cost unviable in order to reduce UCC. All efforts of regulator and millions of $ investment showed no to little impact on UCC traffic volume. Detailed analysis came as rude shock as the UCC and tele-marketing turned as illegal business model by many rouge companies. They use 10 digit MSISDN number to send UCC and mention short codes as well as 10 digits MSISDN to enable interested potential mobile subscriber to get connected with the advertisers. UCC under the wrap of P2P messages goes undetected by mobile operator network and get delivered to mobile subscriber and in turn Mobile Network Operators are held accountable. Similarly, the tele-marketers are buying mobile subscriber’s number from various sources and use 10- digit MSISDN to go undetected by Mobile Operator as well as regulators.
Based on my analysis, the above mentioned activities by rouge Bulk SMS providers as well as tele marketers are inflicting major revenue loss for both Mobile Operators and Government. Under Telecom act, any message consisting of commercial information or potential of generating revenue for message sender must be considered as commercial message and cannot be treated as P2P message. Short Codes response request from subscriber P2A but in this case A2P message is missing in order to complete the cycle.
All these activities by few SMS based advertising companies for quick gain costed Mobile operators Millions as penalty from regulatory and landed them in loggerhead with regulators.
The Mobile Operators may opt for SMS aggregation platform with content monitoring, filtering and security to identify UCC and take the legal action. At the same time regulators may opt for stringent clause for companies opting of mobile advertisement based product awareness through rouge Bulk SMS providers. The companies giving a business to rouge Bulk SMS provider must be penalised so that other gets discouraged and opt for legalised Bulk SMS providers. Regulators may also opt for centralized Web Portal for both UCC and telemarketing related complaint, initiated action and end result. At the same time, the Telecom ministry should take subscriber awareness program which would lead mobile subscriber comes forward and lodge formal complaint.
In conclusion, UCC and unauthorized telemarketing is not only carrying nuisance value but also possess great threat towards mobile operator network, device security, theft of sensitive information and national security.

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Visionary Leader with 22 years of multi-functional experience - combine astute tactical, strategic, business, technology and industry skills in ICT domain at domestic and international level (Wired/Wireless/ networks /platforms/ connected device) .... More

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