TRAI, SMS and India- Dilemma, Confusion and Struggle

TRAI’s recent initiative to cap the number of SMSes a day has sounded the death knell for lots of businesses as well as social solutions. SMS is the prime mode of communication for many specific users e.g. the physically challenged. Many mobile users who are deaf start their day with a Good Morning SMS and in the course of the day, send and receive more than 300 SMSes while communicating with others. Similarly hearing-impaired students in schools and colleges have been using SMS service for their studies.

Businesses providing tracking services ( e.g. real time train timings, how driver is driving, etc), Group SMS using web are also badly hit.

SMS is an inexpensive, easy and silent mode of communication. Young India communicates extensively through SMS. Businesses use SMS as a cost effective and universally understandable communication medium. But on the flip side subscribers & businesses have also abused this mode of communication.

Political parties have also come out against the TRAI rule to gain more sympathy in the eyes of public.

“The government wishes to curb the endless and disruptive flow of messages, but instead of addressing the source of the problem, they are imposing limitations on the public. This goes against the basic rights of an individual,” Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray.

Every month, the TRAI receives some 40,000 complaints about telemarketers. Last month, it cut off 72,000 phone connections of registered telemarketers and more than 118,000 of those of unregistered firms for calling people even though they had subscribed to a do-not-call registry. Not all subscribers complain, even if they are at the receiving end.

Businesses are sending SMS or mail stating to unsubscribe from NCPR or unblock particular category, if you would like to continue our services. But aren’t these businesses asking their users to open door for Spam? We surely think so.

In fact TRAI has warned users:

“Customers are requested to be aware of such messages which are apparently based on misunderstanding of the regulations and customers already registered on NCPR are requested to not deregister,”

“Concerns have been raised that such provisions will impact flow of transactional messages such as from a bank to its customers or from Airlines to its passengers, and likewise from the schools to the students/ parents. This concern is misplaced. Under the Regulation, such messages are classified as Transactional messages [see Clause 2(ab)] and the limit of 100 SMS does not apply to the Transaction messages,”

Today businesses and subscribers both are confused and are in a dilemma. They are struggling to understand the fine prints and the technicalities of the rule and what would be cost effective alternatives.

What I recommend to TRAI is to communicate, explain and simplify the rules. It is important that the common man understands the logic behind the rules.
Note: The next article in this series includes how businesses are affected, some opinions and solutions. Please share your thoughts with

[Guest article by Kunal Kant, Operations Manger at]


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