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Pressure on pvt telecom players to release directories

New Delhi, Aug. 26: Private telecom operators seem to have been allowed to go scot free by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the issue of telephone directory as this did not form part of the recently-released customer survey.

The Union communications ministry is likely to approach the regulator to seek its intervention and force the private operators to release the directory.

Both fixed line and cellular operators are stipulated to release telephone directory and update it each year.

However, the private operators who have been offering services for more than six years are yet to release the directory of their subscribers.

According to senior officials in the communications ministry, “the licence conditions stipulate, each of the operators should prepare and release the telephone directory separately. It has been pointed out to them. But last year the operators said a composite directory would be released by the respective associations; even that has not happened.”

“The regulator has been asked to look into this issue since it is part of the customers services. This is a issue that has not been highlighted by Trai in its QoS survey. We will approach them again to intervene and ask the operators to release the directories,” officials added.

The regulator confirmed that the release of telephone directory was not part of the survey conducted by the IMRB.

Trai had asked the market research company to measure two aspects: first, make an objective assessment of the quality of service provided by both basic and cellular service providers; second, make a subjective survey of the level of consumer satisfaction with the services.

IMRB had been given the contract to conduct the survey on behalf of Trai at a cost of Rs 1 crore for a 14-month period.

“The issue of telephone directory was not part of the parameters examined by the survey. It will also not form a part of the series to be released every quarter. But it is part of the licence conditions,” said Trai chairman M.S. Verma.

The private cellular operators had been hiding behind the argument that the cellular subscribers do not wish their names and numbers to be made public since they have to pay for the incoming calls.

However, with falling airtime rates and penetration of cellular service, the cellular subscribers are unlikely to concern their voice on this issue.

“The argument on behalf of cellular subscribers by the operators is an excuse for not implementing their obligations as per licence conditions. The regulator has to take up the issue as part of the survey,” said a senior communications ministry official.

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