Mobile phone users who send hundreds of text messages to friends daily can indulge in their pastime without fear as the Delhi high court has quashed the cap of 200 SMSes per day imposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
At the same time, the court has made a distinction between ordinary texters and those sending unsolicited commercial communication (UCC); the latter category, mainly commercial entities sending spam to mobile phone users, will face restrictions on the number of messages they can send daily.
Telecom operators will now have to find a way of identifying normal SMS messages sent by subscribers to family and friends, and commercial enterprises sending junk messages to millions of subscribers.
The TRAI had imposed a cap of 200 SMSes per day to curb the menace of unsolicited messages sent by tele-marketers. While most tele-marketers registered with the regulator have been adhering to the new rules formulated by the TRAI in September 2011 – which imposes a ban on sending messages to the 160 million subscribers registered in its 'national customer preference register' – unregistered ones have been flooding subscribers with unsolicited messages (See: TRAI exempts 200 SMSs per SIM for automated messages).
Many of the unregistered tele-marketers have been buying SIM cards in bulk and sending about 200 messages daily through each of the cards. Others have been sending bulk messages through overseas servers. The TRAI's cap of 200 messages also hurt heavy texters, especially the youth, who send 500 to 1,000 messages daily.
An NGO, Telecom Watchdog, filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi high court, claiming that the cap on messages had been imposed in a non-transparent manner by the TRAI, without consulting the stakeholders.