Will 100 SMS per day limit be an effective end to spam messages?


TRAI has implemented its new legislation to curb spam
SMSes from errant telemarketers’, by enforcing a limit of 100 SMS per day for


However, this new law has not gone down well with either
the telecom community or general public, and there has been widespread
criticism on curbing public freedom and operator revenues in a way, via this
move – while the question of whether it will effectively stop unwanted calls
and messages still lingers. COAI also said that in case of emergencies, this
limitation of 100 SMSes may be detrimental.


Looking at these issues, TRAI has now clarified its
stance by exempting various service providers, including the dealers of telecom
operators, e-ticketing agencies and social networking sites, as well as
agencies providing directory services, such as Just dial, Zatse, Callezee,
Getit and Askme, from the new limit of one hundred SMSes per day per SIM.


According to a statement issued by the regulatory body in
this regard, Hereby directs all access providers to exclude the following
persons from the limit of one hundred SMS per day per SIM – dealers of the
telecom service providers and DTH operators for sending request for electronic
recharge on mobile numbers.”


The ‘100 SMS per day’ limit will also be lifted for
festive occasions, when customers will be free to send out any number of SMSes,
as well as in the case of national calamities like floods, earthquakes, bomb
blasts, etc.  In the case of post-paid telephone numbers, the access
provider shall not permit more than 3,000 SMSes per SIM per month, the TRAI
recommendations had said.


However, TRAI has said that, The access provider shall,
before excluding the persons, obtain an undertaking from such person that he
shall not use the said facility in any manner for sending commercial


This move follows the Do Not Call Registry previously implemented by TRAI last month, which failed to prevent SPAM
messages and instead resulted in many subscribers not receiving SMSes for
essential services that they had opted-in for even. With this new rule,
subscribers now have the option of choosing to be under the ‘Fully Blocked’
category, which is akin to the ‘Do Not Call Registry’. If a user selects the ‘Partially Blocked’ category, he/she will receive SMSes in categories chosen.


TRAI levying 100 SMS per day limit and termination
charges for commercial SMSes is a welcome move for consumers, who inspite of
being registered with the DND services have been troubled by promotional SMSes.
This is likely to affect the total bulk SMS market which has been a significant
source of revenues for communication service providers in India. Newer players
are likely to face skewed competition if the termination charges are levied
since they already work on wafer-thin margins to maintain their positions in
the industry,” said Shaily Shah, research analyst, Gartner.


Social bulk messaging platform, SMS GupShup in July
introduced SMS GupShup Scrubber,
to assist telemarketing firms to meet TRAI’s guidelines, by enabling both large
and small telecom companies to “scrub” mobile and landline numbers
and classify them as per the updated guidelines of the TRAI.  Once mobile
users registered their preferences in TRAI’s NCPR register the telemarketers
and operators will filter out all messages that are not in accordance with the
consumer’s preference.


The new scrubbing solution processes, matches and filters
numbers at superfast speed. The Scrubber has been successfully tested for
quality and performance on SMS GupShup’s monthly volume of over 3 billion messages
per month, as well as at multiple network operator locations. The SMS GupShup
Scrubber is 100 percent TRAI compliant, and the Scrubber will download data
twice a week directly from TRAI. Based on the date of a user’s database
submission, the scrubbed data will be the most recent as per TRAI records. The
Scrubber eliminates a significant risk factor for most companies in the mobile
ecosystem. The scrubbing service can be integrated with voice, data and SMS
messaging systems. SMS GupShup has an API ready for people wishing to integrate
the solution into their automated systems.


SMS GupShup is mostly supportive of the new TRAI
guidelines. It’s a well-intentioned move in the right direction that will
reduce spam messages for consumers,” said Beerud Seth, CEO, SMS GupShup.


However, while it is a good change overall, there are a
few refinements required. While the rules eliminate spam messages, they also
eliminate many good uses such as social networking (e.g. Facebook, GupShup,
Google) and directory services (e.g. Just dial, Getit etc). TRAI realizes that
as well and has already released an amendment on the first day of the new
regime. We expect more refinements to come over the next few days,” Seth added.


Besides this, GupShup has undertaken activities to
prepare ourselves and our users for these changes. We have upgraded our systems
to ensure full compliance. We’re busy educating customers on how to operate
under the new rules. We’re also working with customers on making adjustments to
their accounts to minimize disruptions as much as possible,” Seth added.


a company which specializes in pull-based SMS services offers ZipDial To
Verify, which works on all phones and allows customers to better comply with
the new TRAI guidelines on SMS delivery. ZipDial’s solution is based on dialing
numbers – or giving a missed call – so there is zero dependency on SMS. 


The principal and spirit of the regulation is right, as
telemarketer’s use similar numbers to spam customers as subscriber mobile
numbers. Zipdial on the other hand, is completely spam-free, we never push SMS,
as users only pull SMS from us. TRAI needs to impose some limit, although I’m
not sure if 100 is the right number,” said Valerie Rozycki Wagoner, CEO &
founder, ZipDial.


However, moving more and more towards pull-based or
request based systems are better solutions – giving subscribers the option of
only opting for what services they want, and when they want it. The challenge
posed by TRAI’s new system is that it is very broad-based in terms of
categories, and customers may want a specific service under that category, but
DNCR does not allow for tjhis – forcing the customer to opt for the entire
category. Thus, a pull-based system, where a customer requests for only
specific data is a better idea,” Wagoner added.


There will be a lot less revenue impact than what people
fear, as only 25 percent of mobile phone users use SMS; while only a tiny
fraction send more than 100 SMSes per day.


I believe the new guideline is a step in the right
direction, but needs to be modified – TRAI should recognize the needs of
customers and service providers speak to them and come up with solutions
accordingly.  ZipDial is in the process of working with cellular bodies
and the regulator to implement ZipDial’s solutions on a mass-scale, as we have
seen huge success using ZipDial services during MNP surveys conducted by us
with UTV Bloomberg, as well as the most recent TOI campaign against corruption
in favour of Anna Hazare, where ZipDial was a partner in collecting votes. In
India, we currently work with Airtel and BSNL and will soon start working with
a third operator shortly,” Wagoner added.


By Beryl M
[email protected]