How this issue is settled is of great importance, and it impacts the future of push SMS services from SMS GupShup and Google, apart from every single service provider who sends a push SMS to consumers.
Airtel has blocked MyToday SMS longcode, writes Netcore MD Rajesh Jain, citing complaints made by MyToday subscribers to Airtel about unsolicited SMS. (Update: this means that new users cannot sign up, and existing users cannot unsubscribe.) At the core of the debate, writes Jain, is whether an SMS Opt-in by a subscriber overrides a National Do Not Call (NDNC) registration or not.
The fact remains that Airtel cannot arbitrarily cite the NDNC and block access, unless subscribers have complained; there are obviously some subscribers who want to unsubscribe from the service, but because they don’t know how to, they’ve complained.
At the same time, I do believe that Jain is in the right – those consumers have chosen to opt-in. However, the onus is on MyToday to prove that they’ve opted in, and maintain records to that effect.
Airtel has blocked the long codes 9845398453 and 9845298452, and is being rather unrealistic by asking MyToday to get its subscribers to give in writing that they’ve subscribed, and quite ridiculous by asking MyToday to scrub its database clean of 10% of its subscribers who have signed up for the NDNC.
This includes me. I’m an Airtel subscriber and have signed up for MyToday services. I have solicited MyToday’s SMS services, so I want to receive those SMS’. At the same time, I don’t want to receive SMS’ from “Mr. Deal” and the “Hard Rock Café”. I did not sign up for those.
This is not MyToday’s first run-in with a mobile operator, or indeed Airtel. At the TRAI Open House discussion on MVAS (a must read if you’re in the Mobile business), Jain had called for transparency and the definition of a clear mechanism for settlement of disputes.
“Rajesh Jain, MD of Netcore (MyToday) called for clear guidelines and a mechanism for settling disputes, saying that there is only a perception of a fairplay environment (which operators kept hinting at). Netcore’s MyToday services were curtailed for no apparent reason, and there was no way of dispute resolution then.”
Sadly, the TRAI has passed the buck, in this case, to Airtel.
(Updates: Confirmed from Netcore – updates are available, but users on Airtel cannot subscribe or unsubscribe, and edited post accordingly)