The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has taken cognizance of the fact that certain spammers were sending promotional messages through the transaction pipe, and trying to bypass the additional interconnect charges applicable for promotional messages. The ninth amendment made to the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2012 has the inclusion of clauses which make two significant changes:
Firstly, a telemarketer who has been blacklisted because of violating the SMS Spam regulations shall still be able to provide transactional messaging services to its clients. This is a better way of separating the transactional SMS part of the business, and allows for its derisking.
Secondly, telemarketers who use the transactional pipe for sending promotional messages will be barred from sending both promotional and transactional messages; the higher of the two penalties.
This is an instance of the TRAI recognising that unscrupulous telemarketers were using the transactional messaging pipe for spamming customers, an issue that MediaNama had raised first in January. We still feel that the TRAI’s policy of having an additional 5 paise charge on promotional messaging – significant when you consider that millions of messages are being sent – actually encouraged this is, because the 5p charge on promotional SMS’ makes the bulk SMS business unviable for some advertisers. We believe that the TRAI needs to stay out of the pricing, and let that be determined by market forces.
The other thing we’ve noticed is that there has been a significant increase in spam messages being sent from mobile SIM cards (via modem farms); earlier this month, I received 19 promotional messages in 2 days from Club Mahindra, which says it is looking into the matter. There’s almost no point filing a DND complaint against a mobile number, because they’ll just discard the SIM. The TRAI needs to ensure that telecom operators sell SIM cards to verified individuals or verified telemarketers only, so they can be held accountable.
The two clauses added today:
“Provided that in case the telemarketer is blacklisted for sending unsolicited commercial communications through the telecom resources allotted to it for sending promotional messages, the telecom resources provided to it for sending promotional messages shall only be disconnected”
“Provided further that in case the telemarketer is blacklisted for sending unsolicited commercial communications through the telecom resources allotted to it for sending transactional messages, the telecom resources provided to it for sending transactional messages and promotional messages shall be disconnected.”