The heyday of text messaging will end next Tuesday. Starting September 27, lay mobile phone users will be allowed to send only 100 messages from a SIM card per day. Those with two phones or a phone with two SIM Cards can send 200.Bizarrely, this new rule is the government’s way of blocking unsolicited messages that have become a plague in the last few years. Instead of throwing out the bath water – rogue telemarketers — it has chucked the baby — the short messaging service (SMS) that is a boon for people who communicate in large groups, or need something less intrusive than calls.
TRAI argues that many of the smaller telemarketing outfits have been using cheap SMS packages to spam subscribers . But the same packages are used by common people for perfectly legal, private, innocuous and pressing uses.The TRAI order prohibits telecom firms from offering packages that permit sending of more than 100 SMSs per day, per SIM. “Service providers will not be allowed to sell the same SMS packages anymore and are working out other deals. Schemes they have already sold will continue but, in future, deals offered will have to be limited,” says Rajan Mathews, DG , COAI.
But don’t expect the flood of telemarketing messages to cease from Tuesday as the rule does not apply to firms whose fulltime business is to send bulk messages. Telemarketing will continue to be a legal business activity, provided the firms register with TRAI and follow its guidelines. The reasoning is that violators among registered telemarketers can be identified by their unique codes, and hauled up. For now, your only hope against bulk SMSs is to register with TRAI’s Do Not Disturb (DND) directory, which promises respite from spam within 45 days of registration. Although, those who have opted for DND say it is ineffective .