The fresh regulations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on unsolicited telemarketing calls and SMS came into force on Tuesday, giving the much-needed relief to over 85-crore mobile subscribers across the country.

And in the days to come, it could become more expensive for companies to use SMS as marketing tool, as the TRAI is considering raising the charge of commercial SMS.

However, the TRAI has relaxed its 100 SMS a day a subscriber limit for companies providing certain services, which include dealers of telecom service providers and DTH operators, e-ticketing agencies, social networking sites and agencies providing directory services.

“All those subscribers who have registered with the ‘National Customer Preference Registry' (NCPR), earlier known as ‘Do Not Call Registry,' will get relief from all commercial communications,” Communication and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said after formally introducing the ‘Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulation.' Already, over 13-crore people have registered their numbers with the NCPR.

Violators to be penalised

The Minister said the government was committed to strictly implementing the new regulations and companies violating the guidelines would be severely penalised. As per the new regulations, violators could be penalised up to Rs.2.5 lakh, while habitual offenders would be blacklisted.

TRAI chairman J.S. Sarma said they were planning to impose 5 paise termination charge an SMS from October 15, 2011 on service providers on whose network commercial SMS originate and not on general SMS.

It would make sending commercial SMS more expensive.

On limiting SMS per user, Mr. Sarma said: “We have issued a direction exempting certain categories from limitation…if genuine cases come to us, we will accept their request and exempt from some clauses. People need to inform us. However, on festival days there will be no limitation on the number of SMS.”

Options

Under the new regulations, subscribers could either opt for the ‘Fully Blocked' category or ‘Partially Blocked,' where they would receive commercial SMS as per their choice.

For registering under the ‘Fully Blocked' list, a customer could either call 1909 or send SMS ‘START 0' to 1909. Telemarketers have been allocated the ‘140' number series that would help the subscribers to identify commercial calls easily.