(Update: Rajesh Jain informs us that the short code has been blocked, not the long code. We’ve updated the post accordingly)
And we’re not surprised. It was only a matter of time before Vodafone blocked MyToday dailies: some independent VAS execs who have dealt with the MNC telecomoperator had told us around 2 months ago members of their Vodafones VAS team have mentioned a dislike for MyToday and its free SMS services, because it competes with their paid SMS services model. Business Standard reports this, and the theory has been mentioned by Rajesh Jain, MD of Netcore, on his blog. Jain adds that Vodafone had previously blocked access to MyToday’s WAP portal (http://mytoday.com).
There are two ways of looking at this situation:
— From the operators perspective – it’s his pipe, his consumers, and he can choose which services to allow and which to not. He’s spent the money on the infrastructure, and it is his prerogative.
— From a service providers perspective – he’s buying access via a pipe, and it is up to him which services to supply, at what cost, and how he monetizes it. He’s paying for that access, and should be treated with every other service provider.
The Real Issue: Content Vs Carriage
We take this opportunity to also introduce a theme that we’re going to continue to highlight for the rest of the year – of the need to separate content from carriage. At the root of this issue, and indeed the issue in case of other services in the Telecom and Media domains (like DTH and IPTV) is the dual role being played by content and carriage companies.
Carriage is essentially a telecom mandate, while content is a media mandate. In this case, the telecom operator is providing both content (SMS services at Rs. 30 per month) and carriage (consumer access to external content services), and his content service conflicts with his role as a carriage provider.
There is thus a need to separate the two, because invariably the consumer suffers – at times, the consumer does not get access to a free, ad supported service because the telecom operator may want to provide that service.
Henceforth, we are going to continue to highlight other instances of conflict between content and carriage.
But Is MyToday Being Singled Out?
We also wonder if MyToday is being singled out, or is it an issue that other service providers also face. Remember that MyToday has been the most vocal of VAS players, and has frequently gone public with its issues. Perhaps that has worked against it. So if you’ve faced such issues or know of anyone else who has, please do leave a comment.
It’s also quite a co-incidence that this has happened just days after recent TRAI recommendations were announced. The TRAI has suggested that telecom operators cannot block access to mobile portals to their consumers who have subscribed GPRS or WAP service (web-enabled services) i.e. there will be no selective blocking of mobile portals or short codes.