Not too long ago- 27th September of this year to be precise, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) took a strong step towards curbing pesky telemarketers. The result was that we had a restriction on the number of SMSes that one could send out. The magic number stood at 100 then. The regulation was met with mixed responses from both users and businesses. The users gained mostly since it meant no longer unwanted pesky real estate deals or slimming belts. But some customers were not happy with unnecessary limit of 100 SMSes placed on them. Also the picture wasn’t very rosy for many mobile marketing companies or even businesses that used SMSes to communicate with customers on a regular basis. Just after a month into its implementation since the last regulation, TRAI came up with a few changes. Now folks, the daily SMS limit stands at 200 instead of 100. So how much will things change? Where do the mobile marketing companies go? Is doubling the daily limit really the answer to a spam free mode of communication?
Apart from answering these questions, there is clarity on one thing-the TRAI regulation wasn’t well thought out. Let us see why
- The 12 hour blackout
- Sure 9PM-9AM is the time that people don’t want to be disturbed. But is it also the time when people don’t wish to communicate with each other altogether? Probably not. Then why this 12 hour window of nothingness even for normal subscribers who wish to communicate? It was definitely not the smartest clauses that came with this regulation we feel
- TRAI divided businesses into certain specific sectors and nothing beyond that. There was no others category. Either a business fell into the seven defined categories or it didn’t. This also meant that the businesses that didn’t had to suffer the evil consequences. The evil consequences meant being declared as ‘promotional’ and hence deemed as spam.
- Black hole of blacklists
- 140 million mobile phone users are pushed into a clueless registry called NCPR. This is effectively a walled enclosure where no “promotional” messages can reach. If customers in this category wish to opt for services, which are deemed promotional, they simply cannot.
- Decoding the code
- What we also now have are codes instead of sender ids. It means no more sender ids. So if you remember sometime back, when your received an SMS from say TM-ABC, the ABC would now be gone. You would instead get an alphanumeric code like TD-644100 or DZ-066152. It means you would have to read through the text entirely before you hit delete.
- Categorically Speaking
- As TRAI has declared, it has 7 categories for promotional businesses and if a mobile phone user wishes, they can open up to any of these categories and allow messages in.All businesses in the country have to choose between these 7 categories. Let us say for example you need to subscribe to a service related to Google Alerts. It would for then fall under the “Communication / Broadcasting / Entertainment / IT” category. The only issue with this is that once you do subscribe for a category, you are open to receiving more spam texts from businesses in the same category.
- Too late to opt out or opt-in
- It takes a good week to opt-in, opt-out or modify your NCPR preferences. If it is as simple as sending a text, why should the opt-in or opt out process take so long? What is worse is, if you are a business that offers its service for a trial basis, a disappointed user will first opt-out of NCPR, then wait for 7 days and then return to us to try your service again.
So as we have demonstrated the regulations by TRAI haven’t exactly been perfect. Yes it has had a positive response from customers, but it has an equal number of customers who complained about the daily limit. Maybe this increase in limit is in direct response to those very consumers. But is TRAI missing the point here? Several loopholes still exist as well as several bottlenecks. These bottlenecks aren’t well received by mobile marketing companies and many might just be forced to shut shop. Till TRAI finds the right balance between keeping spam in check and necessary communication possible, all we have to say is TRAI again.