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TRAI hikes termination charges to combat pesky SMSes

In a bid to bring down the number of spam and pesky SMSes, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come up with tighter measures this time. TRAI has imposed 5 paise as termination charge for each transactional SMS and 2 paise for each normal SMS. The new regulation – Short Message Services (SMS) Termination Charges Regulations, 2013 – will be effective from June 1, 2013, and will be charged on operators from whose networks the commercial SMS originates. However, government agencies will be exempted from termination charges.

Termination charge of 5 paise is already there for each promotional message.

According to a statement, TRAI reviewed the policy mainly due to exponential increase in the number of commercial SMSes, large imbalance in SMS traffic between the networks of interconnecting service providers, unilateral imposition of SMS termination charge and in case of non-agreement, disconnection by some dominant service providers and growing litigations among service providers.

In the consultation paper shared by TRAI with stakeholders in 2011 to submit their views on the same, many of the service providers said that in case TRAI decides to prescribe SMS termination charge, it should be strictly on the basis of cost and according to their submission, it should be less than 1 paisa.

But in the counter-comment, large telecom service providers (TSPs) said that the smaller operators sell bulk SMSes to telemarketers at comparatively cheap price and the latter earn revenue through the sale of bulk SMSes primarily because they are able to send a large number of transactional and promotional SMSes to subscribers of other networks. Considering this, TRAI should keep transaction charges at a level, so that TSPs can recover their costs.

TRAI has been trying to combat SMS spam for quite some time now. Last year, it issued a direction to all telecom operators for blocking bulk international SMSes. It has held discussions with telemarketers, access service providers and international long distance (ILD) operators, and has given them 30 days to implement the new directions.

International SMSes containing alphabet header or alphanumeric header or +91 as originating country code should not be delivered through the network. If any source or number from outside the country generates more than two hundred SMSes per hour with similar 'signature', the same should not be delivered through the network. However, such restrictions will not be applicable on blackout days.

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SMS SMSes TRAI
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