DoT Orders Suspension of USSD-Based Call Forwarding from April 15th

The Department of telecommunications(DoT) is deactivating USSD-based call forwarding on mobile phones starting April 15th. Users will need to switch to alternative methods like phone settings or contacting customer care to manage call forwarding.

Rashi Grover
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A notable change is on the way for mobile phone users in India. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has directed telecom service providers to deactivate USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) based call forwarding services on smartphones. This directive takes effect nationwide on April 15th, 2024.


Understanding USSD and Call Forwarding:

USSD codes are a ubiquitous feature on most mobile phones. These short codes, typically starting with an asterisk (*) or hash (#) symbol, allow users to access various network services directly from their phone's keypad. Common examples include checking account balance, activating data plans, or inquiring about call rates.

Call forwarding, on the other hand, is a feature that allows you to redirect incoming calls to another phone number. This can be useful in situations where you're unavailable to answer your phone directly. Traditionally, USSD codes offered a quick and easy way to activate and manage call forwarding on your phone.


Why is USSD Call Forwarding Being Deactivated?

The DoT's decision prioritizes security concerns over convenience. While USSD is undeniably handy, its simplicity might be vulnerable to exploitation. 

Fraudsters could potentially manipulate USSD codes to redirect calls to unauthorized numbers, leading to financial scams or privacy breaches.


The DoT's directive comes amidst a growing focus on cybersecurity in India. Mobile phones are no longer just communication devices; they hold sensitive information like bank accounts, passwords, and personal data. Strengthening security measures in mobile services is crucial to protecting users from potential threats.

While the deactivation of USSD-based call forwarding might cause some inconvenience, users will still be able to access call forwarding functionality. Here's what you need to know:

Alternative Methods: After April 15th, users will need to switch to alternative methods for activating and managing call forwarding. These methods may include:


Phone Settings Menu: Most smartphones allow you to configure call forwarding directly through the phone's settings menu. 

The specific steps might vary depending on your phone model and operating system. Consult your phone's user manual or manufacturer's website for detailed instructions.

Customer Care: Your telecom service provider's customer care representatives can assist you with setting up call forwarding on your phone number. This might be a viable option for users unfamiliar with navigating phone settings menus.


Alternative Service Codes: Some telecom operators might offer service codes specific to their network for call forwarding functions besides USSD. It's best to check with your specific provider for details on whether they offer such alternative codes.

Action for Service Providers:  Telecom service providers like Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea will need to prepare for this change. This includes:

System Updates: Updating their systems to disable USSD-based call forwarding functionality.


User Communication: Proactively informing their subscribers about the upcoming change through SMS notifications, website updates, or announcements within their mobile apps.

Customer Support: Ensuring their customer care representatives are well-equipped to handle inquiries related to alternative methods for call forwarding after April 15th.

The DoT's decision highlights the ongoing challenge of balancing security and convenience in the digital age. While USSD offers a user-friendly way to manage call forwarding, its potential vulnerability necessitated exploring more secure alternatives. 


This move aligns with broader government initiatives aimed at strengthening cybersecurity measures.

However, a smooth transition for users accustomed to USSD-based call forwarding is crucial.  

Telecom service providers have a vital role to play by effectively communicating the change, educating subscribers about alternative methods, and offering user-friendly support options.