New SMS Regulations by TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently issued “The Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations, 2010”, which enforced a limit of 100 SMS per day per SIM, except on black out days (festivals). It issued the regulation on 1st December, 2010 which came in to force from 27th September, 2011.

Objectives of the Regulation

  • To ensure that the consumers do not receive commercial communications of promotional nature unless they have specifically opted for receiving them
  • To control the use of ordinary numbers for sending commercial messages

Understanding the Regulation

The misuse of SMS packages by unregistered people, who tend to send commercial messages from ordinary numbers to promote their respective businesses, made TRAI to limit 100 SMS per day, per SIM to all the customers. Concerns have been raised, that such limitations will affect the flow of transactional messages from banks to its customers, railways to its passengers and so on.

Hence, the authorities modified their regulation and classified such messages as transactional messages, which are exempted from the limit of 100 SMS per day. Even a person registered with NDNC (National Do not Call) registry will receive all the transactional messages.

As of now TRAI has identified few business categories that need to send such transactional messages and exempted them from the 100 SMS regulation. The list of those categories is as follows.

  • Dealers of the Telecom Service Providers and DTH Operators for sending request for electronic recharge
  • e-ticketing agencies for responding to e-ticketing request made by its customers
  • Certain social networking sites for account verification options.
  • Agencies providing directory services like Just dial, Ask me etc.

However, the categories are not yet finalized and it is open to the Authority to notify further categories as and when required. Moreover, the identified categories will be exempted from the regulation only after they provide an undertaking to the service provider that they will not use this opportunity for sending any commercial messages.

Besides transactional messages, TRAI made another category of messages called promotional messages, which contain promotional material or an advertisement of a product or a service. Only a registered telemarketer (TM) is exempted from the regulation of 100 SMS per day for sending promotional messages. However, a registered TM is not allowed to send any promotional message to the customer registered with NDNC registry.

Things to be noted by the telecom subscribers:

  • Any telecom subscriber who wishes to block commercial communication either through a voice call or SMS can register with the National Customer Preference Register (NCPR) in two categories namely fully blocked or partially blocked using the toll free number 1909. If you already registered with National Do not Call registry (NDNC- previous version of NCPR), you do not have to re-register, as your registration will be continued under full blocked category.
  • According to the regulation a registered TM can send promotional messages only between 9am and 9pm and if you receive any message after 9pm or before 9am you can complain it to your service provider.
  • Customers not registered with NCPR, can also identify the commercial calls and messages as the calls will come from numbers starting with ‘140’, and the messages with the header like XY-NZZZZZ, a special series allotted to telemarketers. This feature enables us not to attend those calls or open those messages.
  • Many telemarketers are sending their customers false messages saying that in order to get transactional messages you need to de-register from NCPR. Beware, those messages are not correct as the transactional messages can be received even if you are registered with NCPR or NDNC.

Things to be noted by the Telemarketers:

  • Any telemarketer (TM) who wants an exemption from the 100 SMS regulation has to register himself with National Telemarketer Registry through the official website of TRAI. Registration fee of Rs. 1000/- and customer education fee of Rs. 9000/- is payable for registration, after which the registration certificate will be generated along with the unique registration number. Every TM, would have only single registration for all his telemarketing centers throughout India, and the registration is valid for 3 years.

  • After getting the registration certificate the TM should obtain the telecom resources regarding the NCPR data from his respective telecom service provider and make necessary arrangements to download the NCPR data from the TRAI website.
  • The TM, before sending any SMS or making a marketing call, should scrub the customers’ numbers from the updated NCPR data and make sure that they are not registered. Also all the registered TM’s are restricted to make any commercial communications only between 9am and 9pm, only to the subscribers who are not registered in NCPR.

Latest Update:

TRAI raised SMS limit

TRAI revised its former regulation of 100 SMS per day per SIM, by raising the limit to 200 SMS per day per SIM. TRAI had announced that it has doubled the daily cap after considering the representations received from many consumers and service providers to relax the limit of 100 SMSes. The new cap of 200 SMSes per day per SIM came in to effect from Tuesday, 1st November.

With this revision, all the Telecom consumers are now able to send up to 200 non commercial SMSes per day from a single SIM. However, there was no restriction on commercial messages sent through telemarketing companies which are registered with TRAI.

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