Airtel to be fined Rs 50 crore for tampering calls

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Kolkata, Sept 24: The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) is likely to impose fine of Rs 50 crore on Bharti Airtel for allegedly tampering its calling-line identification (CLI) mechanism while making business promotional calls to non-Airtel customers.

The DoT claimed that it has received complaints about "Bharti Airtel camouflaging its CLI mechanism in Madhya Pradesh circle for making business promotion calls to non-Airtel mobile customers".

Meanwhile, DoT vigilance wing are investigating similar violation in other circles. Clause 41.19 (iv) of universal service access license norms states that a mobile operator cannot tamper with its CLI mechanism since this is required for security purposes and any violation amounts to a security breach.

In response to the issue, the Airtel spokesman said, "We have not received any communication from the DoT in this regard and therefore cannot comment on the same." Bharti Airtel had initially claimed the CLI fault was triggered by "an error by a third party, a call centre" in this case.

"If a third party provides any CLI, then without making any changes, we forward it to the subscriber, which happened in our case," said Bharti Airtel in an internal communication to the telecom department. But according to the investigations by its vigilance wing, the telecom department found Bharti Airtel's accordingly "did not hold good since the call centre in question was not a third party".

However, Bharti Airtel said that a mistake had been committed by its technical staff. "To manage such a large network we are dependent on our workforce and humans do make unintentional mistakes at times due to work pressure and oversight. This particular incident was also a case of human error and we are taking steps to ensure such mistakes don't happen again by tweaking our process adequately."

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