TRAI’s new conditions to curb pesky messages: Pay more to send more than 100 SMS per day

Telecom Lead India: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has prescribed new conditions for SMS to curb unsolicited commercial communications.

The telecom regulator is expected to take on Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC), especially relating to commercial SMS from unregistered telemarketers, through new regulations called Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Tenth Amendment) Regulations, 2012.

However, TRAI is silent about new penalties on telecom operators and marketing agencies. It seems the telecom regulator is not bothered about pesky calls from marketing companies.

TRAI said presently Indian telecom service providers offer a large number of concessional SMS packs and tariff plans for bulk SMS users. These SMS packs and tariff plans are being misused by unregistered telemarketers to send promotional SMSs to consumers.

To prevent unregistered telemarketers from misusing such SMS packs or tariff plans for sending bulk promotional SMSs, a price restraint has been placed on sending of more than one hundred SMS per day per SIM at a concessional rate.

The subscriber is free to send SMSs beyond this number, however, all such SMSs sent beyond one hundred SMS per day per SIM shall be charged at a rate not lower than the rate prescribed by the Authority.

The Authority through the Telecommunication Tariff (Fifty Fourth Amendment) Order, 2012has prescribed a tariff of minimum fifty paise for such SMSs beyond the limit of 100 SMS per day per SIM. The changes effected by the regulations and the order have to be implemented within fifteen days.

To restrict unregistered telemarketers from sending bulk promotional SMSs using software applications, Access Providers have been mandated to put in place, within three months, a solution, which will ensure that no commercial SMSs are sent having same or similar characters or strings or variants from any source or number.

The solution will ensure that not more than 200 SMSs with such similar ‘signature’ are sent in an hour. However, registered telemarketers, transactional message sending entities and telephone numbers exempted by the Authority are excluded from this provision. Normal consumers sending non-commercial SMSs will also not be affected by this measure.

The lodging of a UCC complaint through SMS has been made easier. Now the complaint can be lodged through SMS by simply forwarding the UCC SMS to 1909 after appending the telephone number and date of receipt of the SMS. Access providers will also establish a web-based complaint registering system and a dedicated e-mail address to receive such complaints on UCC.

For increasing consumer awareness and to caution against misuse, Access Providers have been mandated to send SMS to all customers on periodic basis, advising them not to send any commercial communications and informing them about the consequences of misuse.

Whenever a new customer is enrolled for service, the Access Provider is required to take an undertaking from such customer in the Customer Acquisition Form that he shall not use the connection for telemarketing purpose and in case he uses the connection for telemarketing purposes such connection shall be liable to be disconnected.

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