India Restricts SMS Sending to Fight Spam

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has ordered all mobile operators to restrict the maximum number of daily text messages sent by every customer to 100 in a decision meant to cut down on SMS spam.

The new regulation, which is bound to make some texting fans unhappy, was announced back in December and went into effect on Tuesday, February 1.

The official reason for the restriction is that "unsolicited commercial communications can be/are being sent by unregistered telemarketers and such messages can be sent by any person and they are essentially in the category of P2P communications."

According to a 2009 report on SMS usage in urban India, mobile phone users send 29 text messages per month on average, which is much lower than the daily limit imposed by TRAI.

The same study showed that SMS as a martketing and advertising platform is very attractive and has a better conversion rate than other mediums. At the time, 75% of mobile users were receiving at least four promotional messages every month.

Restricting the number of daily messages to 100 will clearly prevent some spammers from abusing the service by ignoring the "Do Not Call" (DNC) registry and not respecting other telemarketing regulations.

Legit telemarketers that do wish to run SMS campaigns and don't want to be subject to the new restriction, will need to apply for a special 70-series number.

These numbers serve two purposes. First, all messages or calls made through them are automatically checked against the DNC and second, people can choose not to answer them when seeing the 70 prefix.

It's not clear if the mobile operators themselves are also subject to the SMS restriction, since some of them are known to abuse their position to spam customers with promotions and contests.

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