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India imposes SMS tariffs to curb telemarketers

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India introduces tariffs on delivery of over 100 SMSes per day from a SIM card as a solution to combat unregistered telemarketers.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has stipulated only 100 SMSes a day can be sent from one SIM card, at a concession, as part of the government's efforts to prevent spam messages.

For every SMS sent above the cap of 100, a minimum charge of 50 paise (less than 1 rupee) will be applicable, the regulator said, according to The Times of India report Monday. The move comes after subscribers reported receiving unsolicited promotional text messages repeatedly from unregistered telemarketers, who often seemed to take advantage of concession SMS offers by telecom operators.

The government aims to prevent unregistered telemarketers from misusing SMS packages or tariff plans for sending bulk promotional SMSes, said N Parameswaran, TRAI's principal advisor. However, registered telemarketers, transactional message-sending entities, and telephone numbers are excluded from this provision, Parameswaran noted.

Operators in India also have been asked to implement a solution within three months to ensure no comercial SMS containing the same or similar characters are sent to consumers from any source number, he said. The solution will ensure no more than 200 SMS with similar "signuatures" will be sent within an hour, the government official added.

"The changes effected by the regulation and the order have to be implemented within fifteen days," Parameswaran said, noting these measures were some initial steps the government had taken and more will follow.

The TRAI last month also called on mobile operators to give their suggestions on ways to tackle the issue of unsolicited spam, including fixing a limit for promotional SMSes, a technical solution to block such messages, and costing estimates.

India in September 2007 introduced its National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC), putting in place a mechanism to curb unwanted telemarketing calls. It allows subscribers to list their landline and mobile numbers under the NDNC database and opt out of receiving any unsolicited commercial communications, including SMS.

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