In a bid to further clamp down pesky SMSes, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will impose a termination charge of 5 paise per SMS on operators from whose networks commercial messages originate.
Termination charges are paid by an operator from whose network calls or SMS originate to the one on whose network these communications end. These charges impact tariffs.
"The promotional SMS charge shall be Re 0.05 (five paisa only). The Originating Access provider may collect the promotional SMS charge from the registered telemarketer," TRAI said in a notification.
After much delay, TRAI in September this year came out with recommendations to stop pesky calls and text messages, directing that no operators will permit the transmission of more than 100 SMSes per day per SIM.
The limit is, however, not applicable on 'blackout days' (festive occasions) and a customer is free to send as many messages he desires.
Subscribers also have the option of choosing to be under the 'Fully Blocked' category, similar to the 'Do Not Call Registry' to not receive any promotional SMS or call.
In case a user opts for 'Partially Blocked' category, he or she will receive SMS in only select categories.
At present, some operators charge a termination fee of up to 15 paise per SMS. The current directive would make it mandatory for all operators to charge the termination levy for commercial SMSes.
CDMA telecom operators have opposed the imposition of a termination charge on SMS, saying the move is anti-consumer, anti-competitive and not based on a scientific technical study.
"Some of the incumbent GSM operators always propagate high termination charges for calls as well as on SMS, as it works in their favour. Imposition of any termination charge on SMS will be anti-competitive, anti-consumer and not based on costs," Auspi General Secretary S C Khanna had said in a letter to the Trai Chairman.
He added that prices of bulk SMSes are currently 1.5 to 2 paise and if it shoots up to 7 paise per SMS, this important marketing avenue will be eliminated.
"It would result in thousands losing their jobs as a result of this change in regulation, which will add to the plight of lower sections of society," Khanna said.
TRAI has exempted select service providers -— primarily the dealers of telecom operators, DTH operators, e-ticketing agencies and social networking sites — from the limit of 100 SMSes per day per SIM.
It also includes transactional SMS' from e-commerce agencies, companies registered with SEBI, IRDA, Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), NCDEX, and MCX; and goods delivery confirmation messages.