The total number of Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC) complaints filed by consumers with their respective telcos stood at 5,27,457 complaints for the period September 27, 2011- April 15, 2013, registering an average 27,760 complaints per month. This announcement was made by Milind Deora, Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

The minister informed that the average number of complaints has significantly declined since the implementation of Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR) in September 2011 and mentioned that the average number of complaints prior to the introduction of these regulations stood at 47,454 complaints per month.

Deora noted that unregistered telemarketers sending unsolicited SMSs to customers has been the primary reason of subscribers receiving UCC messages recently and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has ordered telcos to take several measures in a bid to prevent this.

TRAI has also apparently suggested penal provisions against telemarketers who are violating the provisions of these regulations. Telemarketers will have to register with TRAI and provide Rs 1 lakh security deposit. and in case the telemarketer is found violating these provisions, the access provider will deduct a specific amount from the security deposit and the telemarketer will also have to deposit an additional security deposit with TRAI.

For instance, on the first violation Rs 25,000 will be deducted from the security deposit and the telemarketer will have to provide an additional security deposit of Rs 2 lakh. Similarly, the security deposit is increased to Rs 4 lakh on the third violation and the telemarketer is banned for two years after six violations in a calendar year.

TRAI-security deposit

Interestingly, we have noticed that marketers and brands are now looking for workarounds since the SMS regulations. I received an SMS from Myntra and Yebhi stating that I have opted in for their SMS service options. However, I don’t remember opting in for any such services and funnily enough I had not even shopped on any of those sites in last few months. Apparently, it’s a new trend among e-commerce sites to opt-in users by default for SMS services.

Regulating SMS Spam timeline

– 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 relaxed 100 SMS per day restriction for e-tickets, social networks, directories, DTH & More.

– In November 2011, TRAI had extended the daily SMS limit from the existing 100 SMS to 200 SMS and had imposed an additional 5 paise charge on Promotional SMS.

– In July 2012, the Delhi High Court removed the 200 SMS/day limit through a mobile phone SIM for personal communications, stating that the current SMS spam guidelines infringe the freedom of speech of the citizens, and the conditions imposed upon citizens are not reasonable.

– In August 2012, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had released a draft titled “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Tenth Amendment) Regulations, 2012” looking to revise the measures taken earlier last year, for curbing SMS Spam (Unsolicited Commercial Communications). Targeting mostly unregistered telemarketers in the proposed draft, TRAI basically penalized telecom marketers based on first time offence, first voice offence, customer complaints, among others.

– In December 2012, the Indian Supreme Court put a stay on Telecom tribunal, Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) order which had quashed the TRAI’s directive of limiting the number of SMS to 200 per day, per SIM. This essentially means that the TRAI can impose a limit on the number of messages a user sends from one SIM card, till the Court vacates the stay. TRAI had also issued notices to 1,48,095 subscribers and disconnected 1,37,052 subscribers violating its SMS Spam regulations.

Updates: Error in headline has been corrected. 

Related:

– Do TRAI’s Amended SMS Spam Regulations Exempt Free Content Subscriptions From DND?
– Updated: TRAI Blacklists OnMobile & Four Others For Violating Telemarketing Rules
– Telemarketers Sending Promotional Messages On Transactional Pipe
– TRAI Disconnects 22,769 Spammers; 161.66M Subscribers Registered With NCPR 
– TRAI Issues Directives To Tackle SMS Spam From International Numbers 
– TRAI Exempts JaxtrSMS, Latlong & Hike From 200 SMS/Day Limit
– Delhi High Court’s Removes The 200 SMS Per Day Limit In India