The bar on sending not more than five SMS and MMS in a day, which came into effect on Saturday, surprised many people who were not following the Assam issue closely in the newspapers or television channels for the past few days.
According to an official in a private telecom company, many subscribers, particularly students, contacted the call centre and complained that they could not send messages.
“We explained that the bar on the number of SMS was based on a Government of India directive in view of the rumours being spread in connection with the Assam problem. We know that many small businessmen, advertisement firms and others thrive on messages. This will also lead to a huge revenue loss for us ,” he said.
Shankar Narayanan of T. Nagar, who plays football with friends every Sunday, alerts his team on the ground availability the previous evening via SMS. But this Saturday, he tried sending a group SMS to his teammates but it was declined.
Many others suffered similar disappointments. R. Thilaka, a resident of Adyar, said “I send a minimum of 25 text messages daily. I was able to send only four on Saturday. I received a text message from Aircel that I have to retry tomorrow. I had to drop the idea of watching a movie on direct to home service TV as I could not SMS to order for the movie telecast. Calling the service provider otherwise would mean a long process.”
After the fifth SMS from their mobile phones, many subscribers of Aircel received a message from the company, which said: “Due to Government directive, more than 5 SMS per day are blocked. Please retry tomorrow. Anticipate your cooperation…”
The limit on SMS meant making more calls for S. Kishore, who runs an optical store in Anna Nagar. “ I had to call many customers. This was quite a burden and also expensive because I had opted for a free SMS plan,” he said.
Some residents however said that they were relieved that their inboxes were not flooded by bulk business SMSs throughout the day.
The Government directive was however not enforced by a few other service providers. “We have not received any instruction yet in this regard. Since Monday is a holiday, we may get the communication on Tuesday,” an employee of a company said.
Speaking to The Hindu, G. Vijaya, official spokesperson of BSNL Chennai Circle, said that “We have a received a letter regarding the ban from the Directorate of Telecommunication. Subscribers both prepaid and postpaid, will not be able to send more than five SMS texts a day and five MMS messages a day and each not exceeding 25 KB.” The ban will be in effect till September 9.
However, banks, financial institutions and Indian Railways are exempted from the ban.