Indian customers may soon get a better Truecaller alternative

Truecaller mobile app. Image by sharafmaksumov | Bigstockphoto

Indian authorities are planning to develop a new mechanism that would allow mobile users to see the caller’s name on their phone screen, as per the know-your-customer (KYC) record of subscribers with telecom service providers. This is similar to the caller ID application, Truecaller, but better since Truecaller can show names that may not be there in the KYC records.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will soon float a consultation paper to seek stakeholders’ comments, having received a reference from the Department of Telecommunications. Before finalising its recommendations, it will also hold open house sessions in major cities.

TRAI chairman PD Vaghela confirmed the move to the Indian media and said that the consultation on this is expected to begin in a couple of months.

“We have just received a reference, and we will start work on this soon. Name as per KYC will appear when someone calls,” Vaghela was quoted as saying by newswire service PTI. The top official, however, added that the regulator was also contemplating a move on similar lines even before receiving the DoT reference.

The mechanism will help identify callers with accurate data and bring greater accuracy and transparency than some apps like Truecaller that identify callers based on crowdsourcing data. Truecaller directory is not 100% authentic as the data is crowdsourced from contact lists of its users.

A Truecaller spokesperson said that the company welcomes “any and all actions in the mission to make communication safe and efficient.”

“Number identification is crucial to end the menace of spam and scam calls and we, at Truecaller, have been working tirelessly towards this important mission for the past 13 years. We appreciate this move by TRAI and would like to reiterate that we remain very supportive for this and any future initiatives they have,” the company said in a statement issued to Indian media.

Reports suggest that the new mechanism will also help clean up data on crowdsourcing apps as there will be KYC linkages. “…once the framework for KYC based-new mechanism is worked out, the identity establishment will become more clear and legally tenable,” PTI reported citing sources.

The new mechanism will also allow phone users to avoid spam and unsolicited calls and may also be able to report them to the TRAI for necessary action.

Unsolicited calls and messages are a menace in the Indian telecom market. The regulator has not been able to stop unsolicited commercial calls effectively despite taking several steps and even bringing regulations.

The regulator had previously implemented blockchain technology to address the problem of spam calls and messages. It also forced Indian telcos to adopt the technology to handle spam calls and messages at their network level.

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