Restriction on SMS to five a day is not only causing problems for millions of mobile phone users but may also lead to loss of 7-8 per cent revenue of telecom operators for the month, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has said.

The government had banned bulk SMSes and MMSes for 15 days across the country from August 18 to check the spread of rumours, which led to the exodus of north-eastern migrants from cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune.

There were reports of SMSes and MMSes containing misleading information about violence against Muslims in Assam and threats to people from northeast States living in other parts of the country.

While pre-paid mobile users, who account for over 90 per cent of the 930 million mobile subscriber base, are unable to send more than five messages a day, post-paid users do not seem to be facing any problem.

“A ban of 15 days means they could lose around 7-8 per cent of revenue this month from this service alone,” COAI Director-General Rajan S. Mathews said.

Operators, on an average, get 15-18 per cent revenue from data services of which SMS was a part, he said.

Mr. Mathews, however, added that “all the members will definitely make every effort to abide by the rules, as national security and human lives are at stake.”

People across the country wanting to wish their friends and relatives for Eid are feeling the pinch of the government order restricting the text messages. “I wanted to SMS my Eid greetings to friends as it is not possible to call everyone. However, after five messages, I am unable to send anymore messages. As a subscriber, I feel cheated,” Pragya Gupta, a student at Delhi University said.

“SMS has become a way of life. As a media professional, I need to stay in touch with industry peers and it is generally over messages. However, with this ban, we are finding it difficult, and it is impacting our work,” Rakesh Kumar Jha, a PR professional said.

He, however, added that “the situation is very sensitive and I can understand the government’s decision to ban bulk SMS to prevent any untoward incident.’’ The order, however, does not cover transactional messages related to banking, financial institutes and railways.