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Telcos seek compensation from govt for public alert SMSes: Report

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Telecom companies want the government to fix tariffs for both disaster as well as non-disaster categories of common alerting protocol (CAP) alerts to ensure that the operational expenditure of the exercise is covered.

Telcos seek compensation from govt for public alert SMSes: Report
Telecom operators in India have asked the government for compensation on public alert SMSes that are sent out during disasters and to disseminate information, reported Livemint on Tuesday.
The alerts through SMS are sent out under the common alerting protocol (CAP), which compels telecom majors to send out messages on behalf of the government. Messages sent under the CAP include those relating to COVID-19, vaccinations, natural disasters and more.
While companies said that sending out such messages can be taxing for the infrastructure and a costly process, the firms currently do not charge the government or the users for these alerts. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recently opened a consultation paper on the matter.
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“Telecom service providers (TSPs) should be suitably compensated for sending CAP-based alerts in non-disaster scenarios... The tariff should be fixed at 10p/SMS for all such messages basis the market discovered tariffs," Reliance Jio said in a representation to the telecom regulator, as per the Mint report.
The companies want the government to fix tariffs for both disaster as well as non-disaster categories of CAP alerts to ensure that the operational expenditure of the exercise is covered. The companies suggested a rate of 2 paise/SMS for alerts sent during times of disasters.
“During disasters, there is significant cost escalation in running the network and, therefore, we recommend the authority to put in place tariff/reimbursement of SMS termination charge," said Vodafone Idea.
Bharti Airtel added that telecom companies were the only sector providing free services during the times of disaster, as other sectors such as utilities continue to charge customers. The company stated that disasters often have a significant impact on telecom infrastructure but companies have had to ensure that their services are the first ones running again to ensure connectivity in the region. The company finally said that since users are already undergoing hardships in the times of disasters, the responsibility for paying for potential CAP tariffs should fall on the government instead.
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Disclosure: RIL, the promoter of Reliance Jio, also controls Network18, the parent company of CNBCTV18.com.

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