Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Songs To Welcome Callers -- Boon or Bane

Songs To Welcome Callers -- Boon or Bane

In India the practice of having musical notes and cine songs instead of the traditional Tring Tring in phones is becoming increasingly common. It is called in different names in Chennai and charged with exorbitant rates like Airtel calling it Hello Tunes, Hutch calling it Caller Tunes, Aircel calling it Dialer Tunes.

Though each operator calls it in thier own attractive names the underlying concept is same. When a caller calls you in your mobile or landline number activated with this service, the telephone switch in your attached exchange instead of sending the traditional Tring Tring tone back to the caller (for eight rings), sends the musical notes to the caller. The operators and marketing enthusiasts claim that this would keep the caller stay tuned to the phone. For the operators it means an extra rental charged for this. They charged a fixed charge for setting up the tone as 'Caller Tune' and then a fixed monthly rental for availing this service.

In fact, if you carefully watch the marketing activities of providers like Airtel, if you have'nt subscribed, every now and then you would be getting a spam call from these operators. I am just trying to summarize a few points on these new innovation and I feel that there are more demerits with them rather than advantages.

  1. First and foremost I feel that it violates the normal global telecommunications standards. With the worldwide Tring Tring, you can say that the first ring is for acknowledging the call to the switch and the second tring indicates that CLI gets flashed in the subscribers' device (if he has subscribed to that service -- Network subscription) Hence for this reason, CLI enabled instruments' manuals say that the call need to be answered only after the device rings at least two times. And normally after eight rings the call is claimed to be 'Unanswered'. An unanswered call can be handled by a variety of pre-configured ways. A few of the known ways are:
    1. Call drops
    2. A pre-recorded network voice "The subscriber is not able to answer the call now" is given.
    3. The call is transferred to a Voice Mail box.

      Now with the Tring Tring getting extinct and each of the song having its own length, intonation, we do not have a standard to demarcate between the individual rings.
  2. The mobile number is localized. With a very local vernacular song being played while the caller is calling the person and if the person who is calling is from an alien country he might not know whether it is a message or an abuse or some other technical snag.
  3. Out of Context songs: Some of the songs might be totally out of context. For example, recently when I called a HDFC Marketing agent, he was having the song "Vaazha Meenukkum Vilangu Meenukkum Kalyanam". But what happens if the caller is trying to convey some obituary message. Then this song is totally out of its focus and makes the caller to run crazy. Similar out of context situations befit the problems of eve-teasing. The traditional Tring Tring is world-standards since it just serves its intended purpose -- communication without getting infected by any emotions -- regionally, religion-wise, culture-wise.
  4. Telecommunications value-added services would not be available. If you have services like Call Waiting where you can know when the person you are dialling is busy talking, you would get a variant of Tring Tring. But with such musical notes enabled, this 'Call Waiting' Dial Tone is no more possible.
  5. Religius Sentiments disturbed. Normally it is said that certain mantras like Gayatri Mantra should not be recited in the public. And with these HelloTunes, I could see scores of people having Gayatri Mantra as thier Hello Tunes.
Currently it is good that BSNL does not jump into this ugly marketing and they still preserve sticking on to the classic standard Tring Tring. We hope that even the private operators and subscribers would soon realize the folly and limitations of these musical rings and would make some corrective actions.


Deepak Kumar said...

An interesting SMS today I recieved from my mobile operator (Airtel Chennai)

"Special Offer! Enjoy FREE Hello Tunes for 1 month and make your callers listen to your favorite song. SMS SUB to 700 and activate the Airtel Rahman Hello Tune".

There are very many interesting observations and followups related to this simple text message:

(*) When I called 121 regarding whether the message to 700 is toll free or is chargeable, there was **NO ANSWER. JUST PUT ON HOLD AND VANISHED INTO THE WILD**.

(*) When I asked whether after the trial period, would you remind me or just start charging me. **NO ANSWER. JUST PUT ON HOLD AND VANISHED INTO THE WILD**.

(*) When I asked whether there would be any one time processing or installation charges along with 700. **NO ANSWER. JUST PUT ON HOLD AND VANISHED INTO THE WILD**.

And more interesting observations:

(*) When did A. R. Rahman become Airtel Rahman? Has he become a sole ambassador for Airtel only?

(*) The message has very many contradictory statements. The first line says "...callers listen to your favorite song" and the next line says "SMS SUB to 700 and activate the Airtel Rahman Hello Tune". What if I don't like this song of Airtel A.R. Rahman? I think the marketing executives framing such slogans should have a proof checking phase before shooting the text messages for delivery.

Anonymous said...

A brilliant summarry of are subscribers are violating the global regualtions