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Details Of TRAI’s New SPAM Call And SMS Regulations

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India’s Telecom regulator TRAI yesterday issued regulations covering the unsolicited (spam) calls and text messages communications to subscribers. This follows the failure of the Do Not Call Registry – just 340, 231 complaints, a few hundred from me – but isn’t quite the Do Call Registry that was expected. What it does, is provide a framework for registered telemarketers to operate in, and limits alternatives available for unregistered telemarkters, while at the same time, addressing only those subscribers who want to opt out of unsolicited communication. Download the regulations here (PDF), and the press release.

The leeway that telemarketers have is now very limited: just desserts for abusing the system, and in particular, offering a loan to India’s Finance Minister in the middle of an important meeting. There also appear to be a few issues, and a few unintended casualties (especially in the enterprise mobility space), which we’ll explore in another post. For now, some important details we’ve culled out from the regulations:

For Subscribers:

– Subscribers can now only send p2p SMS’, but not buy SMS packs that allow more than SMS’ a day, and all packs that allow more than 100 SMS’ per day will not be available for renewal. This has been done to discourage  unregistered telemarketers from setting up modem farms, bypassing the telemarketer registration framework. If someone sets up a modem farm, then they’ll have to pay P2P SMS rates.
Single number for registering, deregistering and complaints, across telecom operators, for both wireline and wireless: 1909.
– Two options: you can either choose to register for the fully blocked service, which promises no messages, or opt to receive promotions for specific categories, in the partially blocked mode. Those already on the Do Not Call Registry will be transferred to the Fully Blocked list of the National Customer Preference Register (NCPR)
– The request for addition to the NCPR needs to be completed within 7 days. Earlier, it was 45 days for the NDNC.
Complaint details required: Need to mention the following details of the message: the originating telephone number, date, time, and a description of the message / call
– Commercial communication via SMS can take place only between 0900 Hrs to 2100 Hrs
– Subscribers can opt for commercial messages from specific segments.
1 – Banking/Insurance/Financial products/credit cards
2 – Real Estate
3 – Education
4 – Health
5 – Consumer goods and automobiles
6 – Communication/Broadcasting/Entertainment/IT
7 – Tourism and Leisure


SMS START <option> to subscribe, STOP <option> to unsubscribe
– Once you register / change your preference, you can’t change it for three months.
– Telecom operators need to take action on complaints within seven days

For Telemarketers

– No subscriber, who is not registered as a telemarketer under these regulations, shall make any commercial communication. Hence, there’s a limit of 100 SMS’ per day for non-telemarketers, which will force telemarketers to register to offer services to clients. The registration is valid for three years, and this forces an unregulated (almost rogue) industry into the regulatory environment.
– The National Telemarketer Register shall contain the following details of the telemarketer: registration date, application number, registration number, fees deposited, telecom resources allotted to a telemarketer, number of notices received (with dates), date of blacklisting (if applicable).
– Deposit and Fee: Every telemarketer shall, for registration with the Authority, pay Rs. 9000 for customer education and Rs. 1000 for registration. It shall also deposit Rs. 100,000 as a refundable security deposit. However, fines will be deducted from this deposit.
– Blacklisting: Telemarketers will be blacklisted on the basis of a six strike policy (or failure to furnish an additional security amount in case of unsolicited messaging/calls). There’s a fine for each of the six strikes too: starting with Rs. 25000 for the first strike, then Rs. 75000, Rs. 80000, Rs. 120000, Rs. 150000 and Rs. 250000
– A separate numbering series 70XXXXXXXX will be allocated for telemarketers, allowing customers to ignore calls
– For messages telemarketers need to use an alpha-numeric identifier:
1st : telco code
2nd: service area code
3rd: dash(-)
4th: any single digit (1-7) with the digit indicating a specific category of SMS (as mentioned above)
5th-9th: a unique five digit unique identification code provided by respective telco to the telemarketer
– An agency appointed by the TRAI shall update the NCPR with the data received from the telcos (Provider Customer Preference Register) twice a week on every Tuesday and Friday from 0000 Hrs to 0600 Hrs. The additions and deletions in NCPR shall be available for download by telcos and the telemarketers from 0700 Hrs to 1300 Hrs on every Tuesday and Friday respectively.

For Telecom Operators

– Need to maintain their own Provider Customer Preference Register, which will have the following details for each subscriber: name, telephone number, the date and time of the request by the subscriber; the details of the preference made by the subscriber; the unique registration number
– Every telco shall communicate a unique registration number to the subscriber via SMS, within twenty four hours of the request, after verifying the subscriber details. The details will have to then be recorded in the Provider Customer Preference Register. If the details are incorrect, then the telco needs to inform the subscriber, through SMS, within twenty four hours, the details of errors noted, advising a fresh request.
– The NCPR should be updated within twenty four hours of registration or deregistration
– All telemarketers and telcos will be permitted to download the complete National Customer Preference (NCP) data from the NCPR website for which a unique user name and password will be provided.
Cannot provide to any person, other than a registered telemarketer, any tariff plan or SMS package in any form permitting sending of more than one hundred SMS per day per SIM except on ‘blackout days’.
Telemarketer numbers, for sending transactional message, should not have facility for receiving incoming call or SMS.
Telemarketers on the black list shall be disconnected by every telco within 24 hours
– Every telco shall, before providing any telecom resource to a telemarketer, verify the details furnished by the telemarketer in its application form, the registration number issued by the Authority and comply with the subscriber verification guidelines issued by the Department of Telecommunications.
– No telecom resource should be provided is provided to a telemarketer who has been disconnected or blacklisted
Telcos need to ensure that before sending any SMS to a telecom subscriber, the telemarketer scrubs the telephone number of the subscriber with the database received from National Customer preference register
Originating Telco needs to filter messages, so that that no telemarketing SMS, other than SMS opted by the subscriber is sent to him
Every Originating telco shall filter all voice calls received through the telecom resources allocated to the telemarketers to ensure that no commercial voice call is made to any subscriber, registered with the National Customer Preference Register.
– Complaints: on receipt of a complaint, the Terminating Telco shall immediately acknowledge the complaint, verify its correctness as per the available Call Detail Record (CDR) within 72 hours, and forward the complaint to the Originating Telco. The originating telco shall within 72 hours of receipt, investigate the nature of call or SMS, and issue a notice to the telemarketer, with the details of the spam call or message. It then needs to inform the Terminating telco, deposit the amount of the fine with the TRAI, and update the action taken by it in the National Telemarketer register.

Transactional and Service Messages

– No telco shall send any commercial communication, either directly or by mixing such communication with service communication, through voice call or SMS or Unstructured Supplementary Service Device (USSD) unless specifically opted, to a subscriber whose name is registered in the National Customer Preference Register.
– The telemarketer shall not to send any unsolicited commercial communication and will not mix any promotional communications with its Transactional Message sent to a subscriber. A transactional message means an SMS containing:
– Account related information sent to its customer(s) by the Bank or financial institution or insurance company or credit card company or telco
– Information given by Airlines or Indian Railways or its authorised agencies to its passengers regarding travel schedules, ticket booking and reservation
– Information from a registered educational institution to parents or guardians of its students

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  • Thanks for the summary, Nikhal.

  • Good summarization! Thanks a lot!

    Well AFA I got few calls from telemarketers, but mostly from my beloved operator asking for activation of VAS :) Now I am registered with NDNC registry for nearly 3-4 months. Such calls are stopped but it also prevents operator to send sms with offer details to my no. ! But recently they started to sms me, thats good for me. I guess with the implementation of these new rules will again prevent them to send sms to me.

    And this new regulation will certainly kick my brother’s arse, :P as he does his communications only over SMS! thanks to Reliance and Tata Docomo’s daily 500 SMS! This daily 100 sms quota is not a good option for these high SMS users, they need minimum of 200 SMS per day!

  • SK0099

    India is going back to the 70s era again…. so may restrictions and regulations…. god have mercy….

  • "A transactional message means an SMS containing:
    – Account related information sent to its customer(s) by the Bank or financial institution or insurance company or credit card company or telco
    – Information given by Airlines or Indian Railways or its authorised agencies to its passengers regarding travel schedules, ticket booking and reservation
    – Information from a registered educational institution to parents or guardians of its students"

    Where is this transactional message definition ?

  • Kislay

    What are the implications for Bulk Voice Callers like demo.knowlarity.com

  • Firstly I thank… TRAI for such a NCPR initiative to curb Unsolicited SMS & Phone Calls, both SMS & Phone Calls as well as Email are Personal Communication Media's and should not be used for Broadcasting / Spamming.

    We all acknowledge that un-solicitated calling is a menace, and that's why there is a hugh industry for permission based contact (PULL Marketing), and Digital Advertising Industry is all about that.

    Thus TRAI should bring Clarity as to how leagally can one contact the prospects / leads that may also be on NCPR but have responded to Advertisements on non-personal media.

    There is good chance of Prank being played, where-in a person first fills the contact-us form / landing page / send sms to short-code and later denies and complains to TRAI for abuse and gets rewarded with Rs. 500/- Where-in Tele-marketer / Advertiser is made to pay heavy penalties and is risk of loosing his licence with 6 such pranks !!!

    NCPR has big implication on Digital Lead Generation Advertising as one cannot call-back the leads generated onces NCPR goes live Marck 1, 2011.

    You just can't uproot Roses when you uproot Weeds !!!

  • isha

    India is truly is going to old era’s.. why such restrictions… today with such services of smsing one can easily keep in touch but now with such restriction how can it would happen. The limit of 100 is quite less… atleast they shuld increase the limit..
    in this rushing world you think of atleast leaving a message…. day by day social networkings sites are enhancing and here the telecom industry going back to old era’s.

    • Suresh Adugodi

      100sms is not enough at all.i don’t know how they think 100sms is enough.

    • Radha Ramanan

      Exactly u r right….. We r not in the times of ASHOKA or AKBAR! come on yaar, this is 21st century…. 100 sms restriction and all is such a bull shit…….. for them no need to worry because they wont pay their mobile bills…. so they can use whatever way they want but students and general public only get affected…. Please try out some other way or atleast increase the limit upto 300… I always used to send nearly 500/day… please do the favor for us…… u BULL SHIT TRAl

  • Jenimite

    stinking regulations.

  • Jey

    The limit of sms is very less. Atleast they can extend the limit to 200 sms/day. TRAI has to re-consider this. This new act wont be welcomed by common people especially students. To regulate the tele-marketers, they should think of some other plan than this.

    • Suresh Adugodi

      yes you are right,i used to send 300+sms a day now its empty hand , because of some nut people,
      now every body has to strugle.

      • Jey

        Moreover the new msg booster tariffs are frustrating. They provided 18000 msg for 90 days for Rs.49 now for the same booster they are providing 40 sms/day for 90 days. The new msg booster tariffs is really really non-sense. Other networks than mine haven’t implemented this till now.

  • Deepak

    I bought a SMS pack of limit 750 SMS per day 2 days before, but now I can’t send more than 100 SMS per day.
    So my money is totally wasted due to this weired decision.
    Infact all students and officials who used to send SMS in bulk are discouraging this decision of TRAI.
    What a foolish decision is it !
    TRAI must re-consider it.

  • Saurabh

    Could any one please clarify on the regulations which would be applicable for A2P SMS from Telco to promote its content such as ringtones, wall papers. Would that be termed as “Promotional messages”. Also, is there any limit on maximum number of SMS a subscriber can receive in one day from all sources including Telco, Telemarketer etc.

  • bhav

    This is not fare decision. For students who are all using sms it is very difficult. 100sms/day not enough. if it is ok we can avail some other plans. We need many sms for that only we are availing 750sms/day plan. TRAI have to take some other action for regulating tele-marketers. For restricting telemarketers, common people are also suffering. In our point students are very much using sms instead of calling their friends. Restricted sms should be changed asap.

    • mage

      100sms is not enough…………………….

  • Parwesh Tanwar

    The limit is shit. The consumers pay for the SMS send by them and TRAI should not treat that the consumers are beggars that such limit systems has to be implemented. If the TRAI has FAILED in controlling the Telemarketers, they have no authority to take away from us our FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT’s. They cannot make the common man suffer at the cost of Tele-marketers.. I send 400+ sms and now because of DUMB ASS’s, the decsion makers, millions will suffer for their stupidity..

  • Raghu

    100 sms/day will be no where enough for me. 90% of the students communication will be through text messages. TRAI should think of another alternative for this and withdraw the limit rule.

  • abc

    Bullshit! TRAI sucks to the core! What an intellegent decision! No wonder they couldn’t do anything better than this! Why the hell should we suffer?

  • Ayesha_kiwi

    is it gonna end????if yes then when??plz let us know…100 msgs per day r simply nthing 4 us..plz plz let us know if its gonna end

  • indian youth

    naadhaari payalugalaa yaara ketudaa indha maadiri regulation poduringa

    endha naai anupudho andha naaya ban pannu pudichu ulla podu

    engala maadiri youthlaam enna pannum

    seekiram indha regulation lift pannunga

    ilana telecom protest pannuvom

  • jackie

    what the F*** is that regulation

    TRAI should keep its mouth away from these dirty A**(sooo*******) regulations of limiting telemarketers

    we dont like this ********

    s*** it.

  • dhiraj

    it would lead to loads of problems, trai should reconsider its approach towards unregistered telemarketers and the usage benifts of customers should not be compromised ..

  • Ahmedahmed

    whats wrong with TRAI yaar? 100 sms per day?? Is this a new way of troubling innocent students?? students cannot survive on 100 sms…. plz dont be so rude,,,