Changes to Promotional SMS | Amendment to Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference

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1. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India made the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulation, 2010 (6 of 2010) (hereinafter referred to as the principal regulations) dated the 1st December, 2010 to provide an effective mechanism for curbing unsolicited commercial communications.
2. The principal regulations provide a framework for sending of transactional messages, wherein an entity can only send a Transactional message through a telemarketer registered with TRAI. TRAI received several representations from customers and other organizations stating that Transactional messages are generally informative in nature and, therefore, the provisions of the principal regulations permitting the sending of Transactional messages only through registered telemarketers may be amended so as to allow such entities to send the Transactional messages directly without registering as a telemarketer. The Authority has considered these representations and has amended the principal regulations accordingly, by inserting regulation 16A in the principal regulations. However, to ensure that sending of Transactional messages by such entities is
effectively regulated, the Authority has decided to amend sub-regulation (4) of regulation 17 of the principal
regulations making it mandatory for the Transactional message sending entity to enter into an agreement with the Access Provider, as specified in Schedule –V of the principal 8 regulations, for obtaining the telecom resources for the said purpose.
3. The Authority has also made amendments in clause (k) of sub-regulation (2) of regulation 20 of the principal regulations by inserting the words, “ or an entity sending transactional message”, thus permitting the Access Provider to provide to such entity any SMS package or tariff plan permitting sending more than 100 SMS per day per SIM.
4. Clause (ka) of sub-regulation (2) of regulation 20 of the principal regulations provides that no Access Provider shall permit sending of more than one hundred SMS per day per SIM. As the requirement of telemarketer and the entity sending the Transactional message is more than the limit of one hundred SMS per day per SIM provided under said clause (ka), the Authority has decided to add a proviso to the said clause thereby exempting the telemarketer and the entity sending the Transactional message from the said limit.
5. Representations were also received from some service providers requesting the Authority to permit them to send Transactional messages directly to their employees through their own network and resources. Accordingly, a proviso has been added to sub-regulation (4) of regulation 17 of the principal regulations.
6. The principal regulation had prescribed a format for lodging a complaint of Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC)by sending an SMS. This format of SMS should 9 contain telephone number from which the UCC was received, date of the call or SMS and time of call or SMS. However, it has come to the notice of the Authority that to ascertain that the complaint is regarding a UCC, the Access Provider needs to know the content of the message. To resolve the issue and to streamline the lodging and redressal of the complaint, the Authority has decided to add a brief description of UCC into the SMS format specified in
schedule VI.
7. During the consultation process, relating to the principal regulations, several stakeholders expressed a view that imposition of a termination charge on commercial SMSs would be an effective deterrent to the sending of promotional SMSs. The Authority, at the time of issuing the principal regulations, felt that imposition of a termination charge was in the realm of Interconnect Usage charge (IUC). During the consultation process on IUC, while there was wide support for imposing a charge to deal with the menace of unsolicited commercial communications, particularly SMSs, an alternative view was that imposition of termination charge has to be cost based. The Authority found that promotional SMSs are being sent largely by the telemarketers. In order to deter private persons from sending the promotional SMS, the Authority has already imposed the limit of 100 SMS per SIM per day. But in case of telemarketers, there is a tendency to dump the promotional SMSs, resulting in inconvenience to consumers as well as networks.10
8. After careful consideration of the above factors, the Authority felt the need to impose a promotional SMS charge. Accordingly a provision has been made for promotional SMS charge of Re 0.05 sent by registered telemarketer.

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