In a move to curb the menace of Wangiri calls, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has directed operators not to activate international long distance calling on pre-paid cards without user's explicit consent.
Wangiri calls are missed calls that generate from an international number that promise subscribers prizes or lottery when the user calls back on that number. These are premium numbers that charge high tariff, and responding to such calls result in payment of unintended charges.
TRAI has directed operators not to activate ISD (international long distance) facility on pre-paid connections without the explicit consent of the consumer.
Further, the regulator has also asked operators to inform consumers on provisioning of ISD facility on pre-paid cards through SMS at periodic intervals. TRAI also wants service providers to discontinue ISD connections of subscribers who have not given their consent.
The regulator also wants operators to inform subscribers through SMS, within 10 days, not to respond to missed calls from unknown international numbers with prefix other than '+91'. `+91' is India's country code for telecom operators.
This follows a lot of complaints from consumers about missed calls from international telephone numbers. The regulator was also in discussion with the service providers and industry associations from October 2011, about implementation of measures for controlling the above menace.
However, the operators are a worried lot. At present, pre-paid users can make ISD or STD (domestic long distance) calls if they have adequate balance in their account.
More importantly, pre-paid paid connections account for more than 95 per cent of the total 950 million SIMs issued in the country. The margins are much higher from international calls, compared with local calls, and this move is likely to have an impact on their revenues.