The Delhi High Court has removed the 200 SMS/day limit through a mobile phone SIM for personal communications, saying that the current SMS spam guidelines infringe the freedom of speech of the citizens, and the conditions imposed upon citizens are not reasonable, reports PTI (via NDTV). This follows a petition filed by Anil Kumar, secretary of an NGO, Telecom Watchdog in December 2011, after which the Delhi High Court had issued notices to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the central government questioning TRAI’s cap of 200 SMSes per day per SIM.
SMS Spam Guidelines Remain
That being said, the High Court has rejected the removal of restrictions on unsolicited commercial calls and commercial text messages, stating that the limits put in place by the regulator TRAI is valid. It noted that TRAI had found that these calls and text messages were disturbing the recipients and intruding into their privacy by calling them for their own commercial gains. Further, the Delhi high court also allowed TRAI to formulate more appropriate guidelines to regulate these unsolicited text messages.
In September 2011, TRAI had directed all access providers to limit sending of more than one hundred SMS per day per SIM or three thousand SMS per month per SIM and ensure that any commercial communication including SMS, other than transactional messages, is sent to a customer only between 0900 Hrs to 2100 Hrs.
TRAI had also modified the definition of transactional messages and had included several institutions and companies including DTH operators, e-ticketing agencies, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and agencies providing directory services like Justdial, Zatse, Callezee, Getit and Askme within this category. Last month, it had also included Jaxtr SMS, Hike, and Latlong into this category, exempting from the limit of two hundred SMS per SIM per day.
Our Take (Nikhil adds)
Until we see a copy of the order (which hasn’t yet been made available online), it’s not very clear whether the limit of 200 SMS per day has been limited altogether, or just for citizens: i.e.: we’re not sure if the limit remains applicable for those using SIM cards in “modem farms” to send SMS’. Assuming it has been removed in its entirely, the implications of this Court Order:
For SMS Marketing & Spam: If the limit of 200 SMS per day has been removed in its entirely, then this means that there will be an increase of SMS Spam, since fewer SIM Cards will have to be bought and deployed for messaging using model farms.
For Telecom Operators: SMS Packs that allowed over 20,000 SMS per month at nominal costs (of around Rs 49 or 99 per month), which meant that SMS was being used as instant messengers. Telecom operators have been forced to reduce limits (thought we’re not sure if they’ve increased rates), but they not have the opportunity and the freedom to allow more SMS usage. Will they do that? I doubt it.
For SMS’ Whitelist: which includes companies like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, LinkedIn and GooglePlus, Justdial, Zatse, Callezee, Getit, Askme, Jaxtr SMS, Hike, and Latlong, among others, it means that there may no longer be a need for an SMS WhiteList, and other businesses can also send SMS.
For Politics: There was a controversy-theory that the 100 SMS per day limit was created because users were able to forward SMS without really caring about its cost. During the Anna Hazare campaign last year, people would forward messages to their entire phonebook, thus creating a network effect. The limit, it was said, was created to prevent this from happening, particularly given the dissatisfaction with the government in power. What the relaxation of this limit means is that political activity will resume on SMS.
For Data based SMS apps like Whatsapp and Hike: Their biggest competitor, SMS, is back in business.
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